The “New” Joe Manchin?

No, it’s not the Senator from West Virginia I’m talking about here. It’s actually another Democrat from a red and turning redder state that is going to be on the ballot in 2024. I’m talking about Jon Tester (D-MT) from Montana.

Tester is emerging according to The Hill, as the new Joe Manchin. Well, they didn’t put it that way, I did. They say he’s going to be the key vote coming up for most of Biden’s agenda for the second half. He’s been voting more and more with Republicans, Just recently, he voted to block a Biden administration’s EPA rule that would give more federal jurisdiction to the government over streams and wetlands. If you’ll remember, Obama tried the same thing, going so far as to declare mud puddles as “wetlands”. Tester also voted against Biden’s move to tell financial planners that they could go ahead and use environmental, social, and governmental factors in deciding where to invest YOUR money. Currently, most financial planners are “fiduciaries” and they have to do what’s best for the investor, regardless what it does to the environment, society, or the government. The investor comes first. Biden wants to change that.

So, why is Jon Tester moving right so quickly? Pretty simple really. Montana has taken a rather hard turn to the right in the last election. Jon Tester, as a Democrat, needs to be able to show Montanans that he is conservative enough to represent them in the US Senate. He’s done a pretty fair job at winning reelection so far, seeing how he’s now the 25th Senator in terms of seniority. And he’s currently chairing a couple of rather important committees, which gives him a mouthpiece to speak on the issues.

Tester’s last election was a 15,000 vote romp over Montana State Auditor, Matt Rosendale. In fact, it was the first time in three elections for the US Senate that Tester crossed the 50% threshold. This in spite of the fact that during Trump’s term in office, Tester was known to vote against Trump appointees include Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court. However, Tester announced back in late February that he would be seeking a fourth term, and knew that he had better start positioning himself more to the center. That’s exactly what he had been doing over the last year, becoming a more centrist Democrat with Manchin and then Democrat Kyrsten Sinema.

Whether or not the Democrats are going to be able to hold the Senate in 2024 is going to be centered around Tester’s ability to win reelection. Republicans have targeted Tester, Sinema, and Manchin, knowing that if they could flip all three seats, and win the White House, they would most likely be in charge of the federal government’s three branches, Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary. That is a rare occasion and has only happened five times since the beginning of the 20th century for either party. The last time it happened was 2004 to 2007 during George W. Bush’s reign as president. Prior to that you have to go back to the 1960’s when Democrats held all three branches throughout most of the decade (until Richard Nixon’s election in 1968).

So, what does all of this mean for the rest of this year and next year? I think it means that you’re probably going to see Kyrsten Sinema, Joe Manchin, and Jon Tester all deciding their votes on a case by case basis. All three are going to have to rely on Republicans to win their reelection in 2024. West Virginia Representative, Alex Mooney has already said he’d be taking on Manchin for his job. In Arizona, Ruben Gallego, currently a Representative in the House, has announced he will try and keep Sinema’s seat in Democrat hands as she runs for reelection as an independent. Interestingly enough in Arizona, there are far more Republicans than Democrats still today. And there are more Independents than Democrats as well. So, Sinema may just be able to swing enough from the GOP to win reelection.

And in Montana, Rosendale, who now is in the House, and Representative Ryan Zinke are toying with the idea of taking on Tester, though neither has committed to it at this point. Tester is the only announced candidate for US Senate in Montana as of today.

Any way you look at it, the three “democrats/independents” in Tester, Manchin, and Sinema could make this an interesting run up to not just the Senate elections, but the presidential run up as well!

Carry on world….you’re dismissed!