Big Sky Montana primary victory for Jon Tester's US Senate Campaign & our man Andy H. Tweeten!

A quick note from the Montana situation: our man Andy Tweeten has been working in communications and field ops for Jon Tester, and operating the TesterTime campaign blog.

tester for senate

Tester just trounced his primary opponent, a rather scuzzy lawyer/state auditor named Morrison, by a resounding 61% or so. David Sirota says: Populist Jon Tester Scores Huge Win Against D.C. Dems & For the Rest of Us. This means that he's going to fight the highly corrupt (Abramoff-ultra-tainted) Senator Conrad Burns in November. See also:

Secret to Tester's win: Large margin of primary victory surprises political observers

By CHARLES S. JOHNSON of the Missoulian State Bureau

HELENA - Jon Tester's victory in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary Tuesday night was like a prairie fire sweeping across Montana. As the vote tallies were reported, political observers across the state were stunned by the magnitude of Tester's win in what had been seen as a tossup.

“Although it was clear that Tester was coming on like a rocket in the last couple of weeks, I'm frankly surprised at the margin of the win,” said Pat Williams, a former Democratic congressman and senior fellow at the University of Montana. Tester, a Big Sandy farmer and Montana Senate president, grabbed 76 percent of the vote in Missoula County, 72 percent in Lewis and Clark County and 66 percent in Cascade County.

In his own neck of the woods, Tester saw his vote balloon to 91 percent in his home county of Choteau, 89 percent in Liberty County and 84 percent in Hill County. Tester won 60.8 percent of the total Democratic vote to defeat chief rival and State Auditor John Morrison, who had 35.5 percent. And the drubbing occurred even though Morrison's campaign spent nearly twice as much as Tester's.

The winner captured 48 counties, Morrison took seven counties and they tied in Fallon County, according to unofficial election returns. So what happened? How did Tester's campaign catch fire? What doused Morrison's campaign?

“I think in a nutshell it was grass-roots,” Tester said Wednesday. “We hit the issues that Montanans are connected up with - energy, health care, jobs, public land issues, ethics, fiscal responsibility.” Tester said he will stay with that grass-roots model as he runs against Conrad Burns, the three-term Republican incumbent, in the general election.

“Ultimately, what I heard and what I saw last night was that voters want a change,” he said. “They're tired of the same old, same old. They want somebody to represent Montana values and they want honesty.” Here are some factors cited by political observers.

n Ethics and the Morrison affair. Both Tester and Morrison regularly attacked Burns over the incumbent's ethics because of Burns' ties to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the central figure in the congressional influence-peddling scandal. In April, however, Morrison was on the receiving end of allegations of ethical improprieties.

News stories ran that told how Morrison had an extramarital affair with a Bigfork woman before he was elected auditor in 2000. The woman later married a Flathead Valley businessman, David Tacke, whom Morrison's office investigated for securities fraud. Critics suggested Morrison's office went soft on Tacke, a claim Morrison heatedly disputed.

Jennifer Duffy, managing editor of the Cook Political Report in Washington, D.C., said news of the Morrison affair and his handling of the Tacke case was the turning point in the campaign.

OK, your opponent's affair is pretty much a sophomore mistake. But basic fact that Jon Tester is a terrific candidate with an excellent haircut and a nice populist style. I am really proud of Andy for his excellent work on the ground, and I wish him the best in what's going to be a barnburner mountain folk populist-vs-DC taint election of total buzzcut badassery!

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