Vulnerable Montana senator won’t commit to re-election bid: ‘Retire or lose’ says state GOP

Sen. Jon Tester, the only Democrat to hold statewide office in Montana, will not commit to a re-election bid just yet. The Montana senator will be up for re-election to a fourth term in 2024, and Republicans have their eyes on picking up this seat as they fight to regain a Senate majority next cycle.   

During a Sunday appearance on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press,’ the Montana Democrat was pressed on his re-election ambitions, but refused to say whether he would seek re-election in 2024.

A spokesperson for the senator’s office told Fox News that Tester would make a final determination after the New Year. 

Tester is considered one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents next election cycle, representing a state that voted for former President Trump by +16 points in 2020 and saw a string of GOP victories in the 2022 midterm elections. 

‘If the last two election cycles are any indication, running as a Democrat in 2024 statewide in Montana is a bleak endeavor,’ Montana native and former Republican Senate and House leadership adviser AshLee Strong told Fox. 

‘Republicans now hold all constitutional offices, have a supermajority in the state legislature, and hold three of the four federal offices. Retiring would allow Sen. Tester to leave on his own terms.’

In addition to Tester’s seat, Democrats will face strong headwinds elsewhere in the country as they try to maintain a razor-thin Senate majority in the 2024 elections. The party will be defending 23 of the 34 Senate seats up for grabs next cycle. Of the 23 Democratic incumbents up for re-election, seven represent states won by former President Trump in either 2016 or 2020.

The Montana GOP Chairman Don ‘K’ Kaltschmidt told Fox that it ‘sounds like Sen. Tester is trying to decide whether to retire or lose,’ in response to the senator’s NBC appearance.

Though no clear Republican front-runner has challenged Tester just yet, Montana Rep. Matt Rosendale and Congressman-elect Ryan Zinke have both been considered as potential GOP nominees.  

Rosendale, who has represented Montana’s 2nd Congressional District since 2021, ran for U.S. Senate against Tester in 2018, losing by a narrow margin. Rosendale has communicated interest in a rematch with Tester, but has not yet announced his candidacy. 

Ryan Zinke, newly elected to Montana’s 1st Congressional District in 2022 midterm elections, has also hinted interest in the seat, but told The Associated Press he will not decide on a Senate run until next year.  

Rosendale and Zinke did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment. 

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