Democratic U.S. Senator Jon Tester is hoping Montanans will give him a narrow victory this fall.
But President Donald Trump isn’t making it easy.
Over the weekend, Trump repeatedly slammed the two-term senator for releasing salacious accusations about Ronny Jackson.
Jackson later bowed out as Trump’s nominee for head the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Tester is facing an uphill battle to keep his seat in a state that voted for Trump by 20 points.
But Montana State University political scientist David Parker said the spat may actually help Tester in the long run. Montana is a purplish state and independents are turning on Trump.
“My guess is those independents like Tester because he’s a straight shooter,” Parker said. “He’s bold, he thinks outside the box, he’s not a typical Democrat. So I think this solidifies his rapport among independents.”
Tester is the only Democrat in Montana’s congressional delegation and he’s carved out his name by protecting veterans. Montana is full of them and some saw the White House doctor as unfit to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs.
GOP challengers agree with the president’s remarks but top Republicans in Montana have remained silent.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.