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Sen. Jon Tester and Rep. Greg Gianforte

Tester and Gianforte

There was no “blue wave” in Montana’s congressional elections Tuesday; voters stuck with two incumbents despite President Donald Trump’s unprecedented intervention in the Senate race.

Montanans re-elected Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat, with more votes than he received for either of his previous two terms. The president personally campaigned for Tester’s Republican opponent, State Auditor Matt Rosendale, at political rallies in Great Falls, Billings, Missoula and Bozeman. Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., Vice President Mike Pence, and U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham and Rand Paul all traveled to Montana in efforts to defeat Tester.

For his part, Tester appeared with actor Jeff Bridges and musician friends in Pearl Jam. His wife, Sharla, appeared in a television commercial talking about her husband’s work on their Big Sandy farm.

That Senate race broke Montana records for the amount of money spent, counting both candidates’ own campaigns and separate spending by political parties and other interest groups.

Greg Gianforte was re-elected in a race with former state Rep. Kathleen Williams running for her first statewide office.

Congratulations to Tester and Gianforte on their victories. We will hold them accountable for serving the best interests of all Montanans on Capitol Hill.

Thanks are due to Rosendale and Williams. They gave voters real choices on the Nov. 6 ballot. Rosendale campaigned hard and aligned himself with Trump. Williams drove 40,000 miles around the state, listening and talking about improving health care and increasing civility in politics.

Gianforte will be in the minority party for the first time when the new Congress is seated in January. In his campaign, Gianforte made clear that he stands with President Trump on the issues. He will need to work collaboratively with his House colleagues – Republicans and Democrats – to move this country forward over the next two years.

“I'm going to have to work a little harder to find that common ground, but that's the job the people of Montana have apparently hired me for," Gianforte said in a press release Wednesday.

Tester will still be a member of the Senate minority party come January, and he is experienced in working across the aisle to get things done for Montana.

“I would love to tell you this country is on the cusp of all coming together, but it isn't," Tester said Wednesday morning. "It may be more divided today than it was yesterday. I don’t know. But I can tell you we need to work together in this country and we need to hold people accountable for their actions and that will be done. And we need to make sure that we move forward in the way that we have the strongest middle class ever.”

But first, Gianforte, Tester and Sen. Steve Daines must represent our state well in a lame duck session that has a lot of work to do before Christmas. Belated budget bills, a farm bill and public lands legislation await action. The lame duck Congress should act to stabilize the health insurance market and avoid doing anything to impair access to health care.

Congress will reconvene next week. Montana’s delegation is one of the smallest in the Capitol; so our three members should work even harder to cooperate and advocate for their bosses: the citizens of our great state.

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