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Jon Tester

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Jon Tester
Jon Tester.jpg
U.S. Senate, Montana
In office
January 3, 2007-Present
Term ends
January 3, 2019
Years in position 8
PredecessorConrad Burns (R)
Base salary$174,000/year
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 6, 2012
Cost per vote$56.73 in 2012
Next generalNovember 2018
Campaign $$13,395,778
Term limitsN/A
Prior offices
Montana State Senate
Bachelor'sUniversity of Great Falls
Date of birthAugust 21, 1956
Place of birthHavre, Montana
ProfessionOrganic Farmer
Net worth(2012) $1,141,002
ReligionChurch of God (Anderson)
Office website
Campaign website
Jon Tester (b. August 21, 1956, in Havre, MT) is a Democratic member of the U.S. Senate from Montana. Tester was first elected to the Senate in 2006.

Tester ran unopposed in the Democratic primary in 2012 and defeated Denny Rehberg (R) in the general election on November 6, 2012.[1] Tester won re-election on November 6, 2012.[2]

Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate, Tester was a member of the Montana State Senate.[3]

Based on analysis of multiple outside rankings, Tester is a more moderate left of center Democratic Party vote. As a result, he may break with the Democratic Party line more than his fellow members.


Tester was born in Havre, Montana, near the town of Big Sandy, Montana, on the land that his grandfather homesteaded in 1916.[4] In 1978, he graduated from the University of Great Falls with a B.S. in music. He then worked for two years as a music teacher in the Big Sandy School District before returning to his family's farm and custom butcher shop.


Below is an abbreviated outline of Tester's academic, professional and political career:[3]

  • 2007-Present: U.S. Senator from Montana
  • 1999-2006: Montana State Senate
  • 1983-1992: Big Sandy School Board

Committee assignments

U.S. Senate


Tester serves on the following committees:[5]


Tester served on the following Senate committees:[6]

  • Committee on Appropriations
    • Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies
    • Subcommittee on Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies
    • Subcommittee on Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies
    • Subcommittee on Department of Homeland
    • Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development
    • Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
  • Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
    • Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance and Investment
    • Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection Members
    • Subcommittee on Economic Policy
  • Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
    • Subcommittee on Emergency Management, Intergovernmental Relations, and the District of Columbia
    • Subcommittee on the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Federal Programs and the Federal Workforce Chairman
    • Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations
  • Committee on Indian Affairs Chairman
  • Committee on Veterans' Affairs


Tester served on the following Senate committees:

  • Committee on Appropriations
    • Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development
    • Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government
    • Subcommittee on Homeland Security
    • Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies
    • Subcommittee on Legislative Branch

Key votes

113th Congress


The second session of the 113th Congress enacted into law 114 out of the 3,036 introduced bills (3.8 percent). Comparatively, the 112th Congress had 4.2 percent of introduced bills enacted into law in the second session.[7] The Senate confirmed 13,949 out of 18,323 executive nominations received (76.1 percent). For more information pertaining to Tester's voting record in the 113th Congress, please see the below sections.[8]

National security

John Brennan CIA nomination

Yea3.png Tester voted for the confirmation of John Brennan as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The nomination was confirmed by the Senate on March 7, 2013, with a vote of 63 - 34. Most Democrats supported the nomination, while Republicans were somewhat divided with roughly one-third supporting the nomination.[9]


No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013

Yea3.png Tester voted for H.R.325 -- No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013. The bill passed the Senate on January 31, 2013, with a vote of 64 - 34. The purpose of the bill was to temporarily suspend the debt ceiling and withhold the pay of members of Congress until a budget could be passed. The vote largely followed party lines with Democrats overwhelmingly supporting it and many Republicans in opposition to the bill.[10]

Government shutdown

See also: United States budget debate, 2013

Yea3.png During the shutdown in October 2013, the Senate rejected, down party lines, every House-originated bill that stripped the budget of funding for the Affordable Care Act. A deal was reached late on October 16, 2013, just hours before the debt ceiling deadline. The bill to reopen the government, H.R. 2775, lifted the $16.7 trillion debt limit and funded the government through January 15, 2014. Federal employees also received retroactive pay for the shutdown period. The only concession made by Senate Democrats was to require income verification for Obamacare subsidies.[11] The final vote on H.R. 2775 was 81-18, with all 18 votes against the bill from Republican members. Tester voted with the Democratic Party for the bill.[12]


Source: This graphic was generated by Find The Best.

Mexico-U.S. border

Nay3.png Tester voted against Senate Amendment 1197 -- Requires the Completion of the Fence Along the United States-Mexico Border. The amendment was rejected by the Senate on June 18, 2013, with a vote of 39 - 54. The purpose of the amendment was to require the completion of 350 miles of fence described in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 before registered provisional immigrant status may be granted. It would also require 700 miles of fence be completed before the status of registered provisional immigrants may be changed to permanent resident status. The vote followed party lines.[13]

Social issues

Violence Against Women (2013)

Yea3.png Tester voted for S.47 -- Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. The bill was passed by the Senate on February 12, 2013, with a vote of 78 - 22. The purpose of the bill was to combat violence against women, from domestic violence to international trafficking in persons. All 22 dissenting votes were cast by Republicans.[14]

Previous congressional sessions

Fiscal Cliff

Yea3.png Tester voted for the fiscal cliff compromise bill, which made permanent most of the Bush tax cuts originally passed in 2001 and 2003 while also raising tax rates on the highest income levels. The bill was passed in the Senate by an 89 - 8 vote on January 1, 2013.[15]


On The Issues Vote Match

Jon Tester's Vote Match results from On The Issues.
See also: On The Issues Vote Match

On The Issues conducts a VoteMatch analysis of elected officials based on 20 issue areas. Rather than relying on incumbents to complete the quiz themselves, the VoteMatch analysis is conducted using voting records, statements to the media, debate transcripts or citations from books authored by or about the candidate. Based on the results of the quiz, Tester is a Moderate Populist. Tester received a score of 38 percent on social issues and 34 percent on economic issues.[16]

On The Issues organization logo.

The table below contains the results of analysis compiled by staff at On The Issues.

On The Issues Vote Quiz[17]
Economic Issues Social Issues
Issue Stance Issue Stance
Legally require hiring women & minorities Favors Abortion is a woman's unrestricted right Neutral
Expand ObamaCare Favors Comfortable with same-sex marriage Favors
Vouchers for school choice Opposes Keep God in the public sphere Opposes
Absolute right to gun ownership Favors Human needs over animal rights Strongly Opposes
Higher taxes on the wealthy Opposes Stricter punishment reduces crime Opposes
Support & expand free trade Opposes Pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens Strongly Opposes
Stricter limits on political campaign funds Strongly Favors Maintain US sovereignty from UN Strongly Opposes
Prioritize green energy Neutral Expand the military Neutral
Stimulus better than market-led recovery Neutral Stay out of Iran Opposes
Privatize Social Security Strongly Opposes Never legalize marijuana Favors
Note: Information last updated: 2014.[16] If you notice the rating has changed, email us.

Fundraiser for Walsh

Tester and Max Baucus held a fundraiser in November 2013 for Democratic candidate John Walsh, who was running for Montana's U.S. Senate seat in 2014 before dropping out of the race due to a plagiarism scandal. Baucus was appointed U.S. Ambassador to China and did not seek re-election. The fundraiser featured Democrat Chuck Schumer from New York. This fundraiser angered Democrat John Bohlinger, who challenged Walsh in the primary. He said, "I am really troubled by the involvement of the Washington insiders in a Montana Democratic senatorial primary race. They should have no business of trying to influence an outcome of an election here." Bohlinger continued to blast D.C. donors saying, "I’ll be raising money, but it will be far lesser amounts than the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (of Washington, D.C.) will pour into Walsh’s campaign fund. Mine will be money that comes from Montanans. I’m really offended by the DSCC and their interest in this (primary)."[18]



See also: United States Senate elections in Montana, 2012

Tester ran for re-election in 2012. He ran unopposed in the Democratic primary. Denny Rehberg defeated Dennis Teske in the Republican primary on June 5, 2012.[1]

The University of Virginia's Center for Politics publishes a newsletter called Sabato's Crystal Ball, and one article entitled "Tilting the Toss Ups – the Eight Races That Will Decide the Senate" from March 22, 2012, detailed the eight races in the Senate in 2012 that could have decided the political fate of which party would end up with control in 2013.[19] Sabato's Crystal Ball rated Montana's U.S. Senate seat as a toss-up that they believed was most likely to change hands.[19] The article noted that incumbent Tester was a slight underdog against challenger Denny Rehberg.[19]

On May 4, 2012, Politico reported that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had purchased nearly $3 million in Montana broadcast time from late August through the November general election to help re-elect Tester. According to Politico, "the DSCC's early commitment to fall spending in the race indicated a level of confidence in the Democrat against a less-examined challenger. Given the map of seats the Democrats needed to win to maintain the majority, the DSCC clearly thought Tester was a wise investment."[20]

According to the website Daily Kos, this race was one of nine top-ballot 2012 races that contained Libertarian candidates who received more total votes than was the difference between the Democratic winner and the GOP runner-up. In this case, Dan Cox took in over 12,500 more votes than the number that separated Tester and Rehberg.[21]

U.S. Senate, Montana General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngJon Tester Incumbent 48.6% 236,123
     Republican Denny Rehberg 44.9% 218,051
     Libertarian Dan Cox 6.6% 31,892
Total Votes 486,066

Full history

Campaign donors

Fundraising events

The below chart from Find The Best tracks the fundraising events Tester attends.

Source: This graphic was generated by Find The Best.

Comprehensive donor history

Comprehensive donor information for is available dating back to 2000. Based on available campaign finance records, raised a total of $13,395,778 during that time period. This information was last updated on April 24, 2013.[23]

Jon Tester's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 U.S. Senate (Montana) Won $13,395,778
Grand Total Raised $13,395,778

Source: This graphic was generated by Find The Best.


Tester won election to the U.S. Senate election in 2012. During that election cycle, Tester's campaign committee raised a total of $13,376,360 and spent $13,328,572.[24]

Cost per vote

Tester spent $56.73 per vote received in 2012.

Out-of-state donations

According to an Open Secrets report, Tester ranked among the top ten senate candidates receiving out-of-state donations during the 2012 election cycle. He received $6,057,952, or 77.6%, of his donations from outside of Montana.[25]

Personal Gain Index

Congressional Personal Gain Index graphic.png
See also: Personal Gain Index (U.S. Congress)

The Personal Gain Index (U.S. Congress) is a two-part measurement that illustrates the extent to which members of the U.S. Congress have prospered during their tenure as public servants.
It consists of two different metrics:

PGI: Change in net worth

See also: Changes in Net Worth of U.S. Senators and Representatives (Personal Gain Index) and Net worth of United States Senators and Representatives
Net Worth Metric graphic.png

Based on congressional financial disclosure forms and calculations made available by, Tester's net worth as of 2012 was estimated between $766,004 and $1,565,000. That averages to $1,165,502, which is lower than the average net worth of Democratic senators in 2012 of $13,566,333.90. Tester ranked as the 63rd most wealthy senator in 2012.[26] Between 2006 and 2012, Tester's calculated net worth[27] increased by an average of 6 percent per year. Between 2004 and 2012, the average annual percentage increase for a member of Congress was 15.4 percent.[28]

Jon Tester Yearly Net Worth
YearAverage Net Worth
Growth from 2006 to 2012:34%
Average annual growth:6%[29]
Comparatively, the American citizen experienced a median yearly decline in net worth of -0.94%.[30]
The data used to calculate changes in net worth may include changes resulting from assets gained through marriage, inheritance, changes in family estates and/or trusts, changes in family business ownership and many other variables unrelated to a member's behavior in Congress.

PGI: Donation Concentration Metric

See also: The Donation Concentration Metric (U.S. Congress Personal Gain Index)

Filings required by the Federal Election Commission report on the industries that give to each candidate. Using campaign filings and information calculated by, Ballotpedia calculated the percentage of donations by industry received by each incumbent over the course of his or her career (or 1989 and later, if elected prior to 1988). In the 113th Congress, Tester is the chair of the United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Tester received the most donations from individuals and PACs employed by the Lawyers/Law Firms industry.

From 2005-2014, 26.82 percent of Tester's career contributions came from the top five industries as listed below.[31]

Donation Concentration Metric graphic.png
Jon Tester Campaign Contributions
Total Raised $19,676,005
Total Spent $19,404,963
Chair of the United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
Top five industries that contributed to campaign committee
Lawyers/Law Firms$1,903,365
Securities & Investment$1,000,230
Leadership PACs$574,602
% total in top industry9.67%
% total in top two industries15.58%
% total in top five industries26.82%


Ideology and leadership

See also: GovTrack's Political Spectrum & Legislative Leadership ranking

Based on an analysis of bill sponsorship by GovTrack, Tester was a "centrist Democrat" as of July 2014.[32] This was the same rating Tester received in July 2013.

Like-minded colleagues

The website OpenCongress tracks the voting records of each member to determine with whom he or she votes most and least often. The results include a member from each party.[33]

Tester most often votes with:

Tester least often votes with:

Source: This graphic was generated by Find The Best.

Lifetime voting record

See also: Lifetime voting records of United States Senators and Representatives

According to the website GovTrack, Tester missed 22 of 2,363 roll call votes from January 2007 to July 2014. This amounts to 0.9 percent, which is better than the median of 2.0 percent among current senators as of July 2014.[34]

Congressional staff salaries

See also: Staff salaries of United States Senators and Representatives

The website Legistorm compiles staff salary information for members of Congress. Tester paid his congressional staff a total of $2,492,099 in 2011. He ranked 12th on the list of the lowest paid Democratic senatorial staff salaries and ranked 41st overall of the lowest paid senatorial staff salaries in 2011. Overall, Montana ranked 28th in average salary for senatorial staff. The average U.S. Senate congressional staff was paid $2,529,141.70 in fiscal year 2011.[35]

National Journal vote ratings

See also: National Journal vote ratings

Each year National Journal publishes an analysis of how liberally or conservatively each member of Congress voted in the previous year. Click the link above for the full ratings of all members of Congress.


Tester ranked 47th in the liberal rankings in 2013.[36]


Tester ranked 41st in the liberal rankings in 2012.[37]


Tester ranked 41st in the liberal rankings in 2011.[38]

Voting with party

The website OpenCongress tracks how often members of Congress vote with the majority of the chamber caucus.


Tester voted with the Democratic Party 83.9 percent of the time, which ranked 47th among the 53 Senate Democratic members as of July 2014.[39]


Tester voted with the Democratic Party 81.5 percent of the time, which ranked 47th among the 52 Senate Democratic members as of June 2013.[40]


Tester is married to Sharla Tester, with whom he has two children, Christine and Shon.[4]

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term Jon + Tester + Montana + Senate

All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Jon Tester News Feed

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See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 Montana Secretary of State, "Election Results," accessed June 5, 2012
  2. Politico, "2012 Election Map, Montana," accessed November 7, 2012
  3. 3.0 3.1 Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, "Jon Tester," accessed July 1, 2013
  4. 4.0 4.1 Jon Tester: The Right Man to Represent Montana, "About," accessed October 22, 2011
  5. United States Senate, "Committee Assignments of the 114th Congress," accessed February 17, 2015
  6. Congressional Quarterly, "Senate Committee List," accessed January 22, 2013
  7. Congressional Record, "Resume of Congressional Activity, First Session of the 112th Congress," accessed September 5, 2013
  8. Congressional Record, "Resume of Congressional Activity, Second Session of the 113th Congress," accessed March 4, 2014
  9. Project Vote Smart, "PN 48 - Nomination of John Brennan to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency - Voting Record," accessed September 25, 2013
  10. Project Vote Smart, "HR 325 - To Ensure the Complete and Timely Payment of the Obligations of the United States Government Until May 19, 2013 - Voting Record," accessed September 25, 2013
  11. The Washington Post, "Reid, McConnell propose bipartisan Senate bill to end shutdown, extend borrowing," accessed October 16, 2013
  12., "H.R. 2775 As Amended," accessed October 31, 2013
  13. Project Vote Smart, "S Amdt 1197 - Requires the Completion of the Fence Along the United States-Mexico Border - Voting Record," accessed September 25, 2013
  14. Project Vote Smart, "S 47 - Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 - Voting Record," accessed September 25, 2013
  15. U.S. Senate, "Roll Call Vote on the Fiscal Cliff," accessed January 4, 2013
  16. 16.0 16.1 On The Issues, "Jon Tester Vote Match," accessed June 20, 2014
  17. The questions in the quiz are broken down into two sections -- social and economic. In social questions, liberals and libertarians agree in choosing the less-government answers, while conservatives and populists agree in choosing the more restrictive answers. For the economic questions, conservatives and libertarians agree in choosing the less-government answers, while liberals and populists agree in choosing the more restrictive answers.
  18., "Bohlinger criticizes Baucus, Tester for early backing of Walsh in U.S. Senate race," accessed November 12, 2013
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Center for Politics, "Tilting the Toss Ups – the Eight Races That Will Decide the Senate," accessed April 9, 2012
  20. Politico, "DSCC buys nearly $3 million in fall time for Tester race," May 7, 2012
  21. Daily Kos, "Libertarians provided the margin for Democrats and at least nine elections," November 15, 2012
  22. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 7, 2006," accessed March 28, 2013
  23. Open Secrets, "Donor history for Jon Tester," April 24, 2013
  24. Open Secrets, "2012 Election Cycle," accessed March 2013
  25. OpenSecrets, "More than 60 Lawmakers Relied Mostly on Out-of-State Money," May 7, 2013
  26. OpenSecrets, "Tester, (D-MT), 2012," accessed February 18, 2014
  27. This figure represents the average annual percentage growth from either 2004 (if the member entered office in 2004 or earlier) or their first year in office (as noted in the chart below) to 2012, divided by the number of years calculated.
  28. This number was found by dividing each member's total net worth growth percentage by the number of years included in the calculation.
  29. This figure represents the total percentage growth divided by the number of years for which there are net worth figures for each member.
  30. This figure was calculated using median asset data from the Census Bureau. Please see the Congressional Net Worth data for Ballotpedia spreadsheet for more information on this calculation.
  31., "Sen. Jon Tester," accessed September 18, 2014
  32. GovTrack, "Jon Tester," accessed July 22, 2014
  33. OpenCongress, "Jon Tester," accessed July 22, 2014
  34. GovTrack, "Jon Tester," accessed July 22, 2014
  35. LegiStorm, "Jon Tester," accessed August 16, 2012
  36. National Journal, "2013 Congressional Vote Ratings," accessed July 22, 2014
  37. National Journal, "TABLE: House Liberal Scores by Issue Area," accessed February 26, 2013
  38. National Journal, "Searchable Vote Ratings Tables: House," accessed February 23, 2012
  39. OpenCongress, "Voting With Party," accessed July 2014
  40. OpenCongress, "Voting With Party," accessed July 2014
Political offices
Preceded by
Conrad Burns
United States Senate - Montana
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Montana Senate
Succeeded by
Jim Shockley