The nonpartisan elections report Cook Political Report changed its rating for the 2024 race for Sen. Jon Tester’s (D-Mt.) seat from “lean Democrat” to “a toss-up” on Thursday.
“Three-term Sen. Jon Tester may be the strongest Democratic candidate this cycle — he still enjoys an approval rating of around 60 percent — but the 67-year-old has the toughest climb of any incumbent Democrat, at least purely in terms of numbers,” wrote Jessica TaylorSenate and gubernatorial editor for Cook Political Report.
“Besides Tester’s proven ability to overcome the state’s Republican leaning (he ran seven points ahead of then-President Barack Obama in 2012), the main reason we ran this race as a Lean Democrat was the prospect of a looming and bruising Republican primary that could divide the party, drain resources and produce a weaker Republican candidate,” she continued. “Furthermore, overtaking Biden in a state where his losing margin could be even greater runs counter to recent political trends. »
Taylor noted that while there is still a risk of a messy GOP primary between Republican candidates Tim Sheehy and Rep. Matt Rosendale (Montenegro), given that Rosendale has not withdrawn from the race for a possible primary, there are signs that top Republicans in the state and nationally are coalescing around Sheehy.
She also noted that several polls show Sheehy outperforming Rosendale in a primary matchup.
The tester’s campaign ignored the change in race rankings.
“Jon is no stranger to tough fights, and this election will be no different,” campaign manager Shelbi Dantic said in a statement, which encouraged supporters to visit her campaign website.
Meanwhile, Republicans used the rating change as a crucial boost.
“Jon Tester is in for the ride of his life because of his unethical behavior and unwavering support for Joe Biden’s disastrous agenda,” said Maggie Abboud, a spokeswoman for the Senate campaign arm. of the GOP, in a press release.
Sheehy’s campaign also touted the shift in viewership in an email, saying “pundits across the country are taking note of Tim Sheehy’s strong candidacy, rise in the polls, and profile that appeals to both primary voters and the electorate in general.”
Senate Democrats are fielding an increasingly difficult map after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced earlier this month that he would not seek re-election.
Tester and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) are the only two red-state Democrats up for re-election, marking two critical races that Democrats must win if they have any hope of retaining the upper chamber.
—Updated at 4:08 p.m.