He feels that the qualities he has demonstrated in the Montana Senate: hard work, the ability to listen and the ability to read (this got a big laugh because we all know Burns can't read) are what will serve him well in the U.S. Senate. He knows that Burns can be beaten and that he is the man to do it. Morrison has too much ethical baggage that will not stand up against Burns whereas he challenges anybody to question his ethics be it family, work on the farm or his record in the Montana legislature. An interesting statistic here is that Burns has a war chest of 10 million bucks. Only 17% of that money is from inside Montana! Tester's money is 67% from Montana. Conrad is supported by big business, pharmaceutical and oil money. Tester's money is largely middle class money.
Conrad is not a conservative. He spends money like it is going out of style- political pork runs rampant for the man. He said his own (Tester's) brother is a conservative and he hates Burns.
Tester said that he will be in the Senate to effect change and that an effective change agent leads by example and isn't afraid to speak their mind. We can't change the direction in this country unless we are willing to elect people who will effect change.
Tester has run his farm organically for 20 years. He supports wind energy development, particularly for eastern Montana and sees energy independence as a viable alternative- he helped move Montana from 50th to 15th in wind energy. He supports a tax policy that will help middle class people stay middle and not have their position eroded. He would like to see the Patriot Act repealed.
I liked the guy a lot. He seemed to be the genuine article and showed no fear about speaking his mind when he was asked some tough questions where he could have hedged on his opinion so as not to alienate anyone like Max Baucus, who obviously has seniority, but is not an effective change agent. He described himself as a progressive Democrat.
Hell, it's been 30 some years since I attended anything political but I was really impressed with his style, straightforwardness and his ability to express his thoughts spontaneously. I donated twice, once after I had asked him some questions privately and again after he spoke to the crowd.
I think if he can beat Morrison in the primary he will beat Conrad in the general. But that's a big "if." Morrison has big name recognition and this state is so damn conservative. If it's Morrison and Burns in November I'm afraid that Burns will win again and that will be so sad. Burns is a joke. He's stupid, only interested in feathering his own nest and arrogant as well. But mostly stupid.
Someone was telling me a couple days ago that they were on vacation in Hawaii and were talking with some congressperson over there who said that Burns is the laughing-stock of the senate. Mike Mansfield must be rolling over in his grave.
My overall gut impressions: nice smile, sense of humor, honest, caring, intelligent, great verbal skills and committed to making a difference and being a change agent. It's always nice to meet someone you agree with too-- especially here in northwest MT, which is pretty damn close to Hayden Lake sometimes. The best part of the gathering was being in a room with a hundred other people who have similar values. When Tester made a point about the war, economy, privacy rights, alternative energy, etc, the crowd applauded. That felt good to me.
For more information on Jon Tester see: http://www.testertime.com
John Rodwick is a school psychologist in Kalispell, Montana. BraddahJohnny1@yahoo.com
This article, reprinted with permission, was previously posted on http://www.blogspot.com