Sen. Jon Tester’s (D-Mont.) reelection campaign announced on Tuesday that it raised more than $5 million in the quarter of 2023, marking a significant financial haul for one of the top targets of Republicans on the 2024 Senate map.
Of the total raised, 96 percent was collected after he officially rolled out his campaign for a fourth term on Feb. 22. The campaign added that the figure is “the highest-ever first quarter fundraising performance by a U.S. Senate campaign in Montana history.”
“I’m humbled by the enormous support our campaign has received from across the state and from hardworking Montanans, like our teachers, veterans, and farmers,” Tester said in a statement. “This grassroots effort, that spans every corner of the state – from Miles City to Dillon – is what this campaign is about: defending Montana values.”
The campaign added that there have been more than 7,600 donations from across the state, with 95 percent of those donations coming in increments of less than $100. Nearly half of the donors have given more than once since he announced his campaign.
The first fundraising quarter ended on March 31, with Federal Election Commission reports due on April 15. More details about the Tester campaign’s financial situation will emerge then.
Tester had $2.9 million in the bank at the end of 2022. His campaign did not reveal how much cash he has on hand at this moment.
Tester occupies one of the three seats Republicans are most intensely targeting in 2024, alongside Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). Brown has announced plans to seek a fourth term in office, while Manchin has maintained that he will not decide until later this year.
It also remains an open question who Tester will face in next year’s general election. Businessman Tim Sheehy, Attorney General Austin Knudsen, Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) and Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) are the most common names mentioned. Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) has reportedly been recruiting Sheehy, a friend of Zinke’s, to take the plunge.
The announcement also comes amid an effort in the Montana legislature to change the rules for the 2024 Senate contest that would box out any third-party candidates from the general election by changing the structure from a traditional primary contest to a jungle primary. The push would seek to keep libertarian candidates from being on the November ballot and potentially swiping votes from the eventual GOP nominee.