Republican challenger Matt Rosendale came close to pulling off a stunning upset over incumbent Sen. Jon Tester (D) in Montana’s election for a U.S. Senate seat, but the race is too close to call.
The contest was still in question after Rosendale received 49.3 percent of the vote over Tester’s 47.9 percent from 77 percent of polling precincts reporting.
Tester had a comfortable lead early on election night, but as the results continued coming in, Rosendale made up the difference and took a very slim lead.
Help from Trump
Rosendale received help from President Donald Trump, who visited Montana to rally his support against Tester. Many believe Trump was getting back at Tester for his role in sinking the nomination of Ronny Jackson for the chief administrator office of Veterans Affairs.
“Jon Tester voted no on legislation to stop late-term abortions,” Trump said at a Great Falls rally in July. “You wouldn’t think it would play very well out here. How did he get elected? I mean I know a lot of people from Montana, you have to explain that one to me – how did he get elected?”
Tester, on the other hand, got some help from liberal celebrities, including actor Jeff Bridges, and Pearl Jam. The latter became a campaign liability however, when they published a promotional poster of the White House burning and President Donald Trump dying on the front lawn.
While the incumbent Tester was ahead of his Republican challenger through most of the polling leading up to the election, in some outliers, Rosendale showed some strength against the Democrat.
In one poll reported in August, Rosendale received 47 percent of voter support over 45 percent for Tester. The RealClearPolitics average had Tester ahead by 4.5 percentage points just ahead of the election.
Tester had received $19,227,650 in campaign donations and spent $17,674,961 while the Rosendale campaign had received only $4,722,943 in campaign donations and spent $4,204,778.
Tester also had a drastic advantage in PAC support, with $3.6 million compared to $325K for Rosendale.
If Rosendale is able to unseat Tester, it will add to the Republicans' impressive gains in the U.S. Senate, despite losing the House of Representatives to the Democrats.
Here's a news video about the race:
This is a developing story and will be updated.