Tester: Dems need to speak to rural America


Sen. Jon Tester speaks at the Drive Out the Vote: Montana Made Tour event in Helena on Oct. 13. 

THOM BRIDGE, Independent Record Holly Michels

In the wake of the election earlier this month when Republicans ran the table, the only statewide Democrat left standing was one not on the ballot this year — Montana’s senior U.S. Sen. Jon Tester.

As the now-standard-bearer for a party that just lost big, Tester answers the question of what the heck happened with a simple answer: the national party’s message just doesn’t work for places like Montana.

“The national Democratic brand has not been solid in rural America for a long time,” Tester in a recent interview. “They haven’t been doing a good job talking about kitchen-table issues.”

In Montana, statewide Republican candidates largely won races more about the national mood than Montana-specific issues. Through footage of people rallying in other states, the “liberal mob” portrayed in campaign television ads was made to seem poised to take local residents’ guns away. Voters were told democracy was teetering on the edge of socialism, though the statewide Democratic candidates generally held fairly

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