Montana Senator Welcomes Shelving of Controversial Election Bill
Senator Jon Tester is pleased that Montana GOP lawmakers are backing away from a proposed bill that would have created what was being called a "jungle primary" that could have had a major impact on his re-election drive next year.
And he's hoping lawmakers in Helena will get back to focusing on challenges like inflation's impacts on families and dealing with the shortage of affordable housing.
Senate Bill 566 has been getting a lot of national press attention over the past couple of weeks because of the pending showdown between Tester, the Democratic incumbent and whoever emerges to carry the GOP banner in the 2024 contest.
That's because the Montana race is being portrayed as a key race to determine control of the Senate.
Bill would have brought a major change to Montana's Primary election
The bill, introduced by Republican Senator Greg Hertz of Polson, aimed to move Montana to a "top two" primary system, irrespective of party. That was seen as a direct move to blunt the idea of a third-party candidate coming in and siphoning off GOP votes and letting Tester win again by a narrow margin.
But Monday, a companion bill from Hertz, which would have forced third-party candidates to get more signatures to make the ballot, died in committee. And by yesterday, support for the bill had cooled, even among the GOP, and the measure was tabled in committee.
Tester told me he welcomes the development
"Well, look, you know, I spend my time working on things like how we're going to reduce costs for families and how we're going to make it so childcare is affordable, and so people can afford houses. So it's a little disappointing they want to go down the political line on this because there's a lot of things that need to be done," Tester expressed. "So you know, as far as shelving the bill, I think that's a good thing to do and get on to things that are much higher priority. "
In addition to criticism from Democrats and Libertarians, GOP Senators said they had been asked by their constituents to vote "no" on the change.