It’s not exactly a secret that Donald Trump has little use for the bright lines that traditionally define American politics, but in April, the president was in rare form. Infuriated by the demise of Ronny Jackson’s nomination to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, Trump lashed out at Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) in hysterical ways.
In fact, the president publicly called for the Montana senator’s resignation – he was a little fuzzy on why, exactly, the lawmaker should quit – and boasted that he had secret information on Jon Tester that would ensure “he’d never be elected again.”
Two-term Democratic incumbent Sen. Jon Tester is the apparent winner in the Montana Senate race, NBC News projects Wednesday, defeating Republican challenger Matt Rosendale.
The projection came Wednesday afternoon, most than 12 hours after polls closed in state closed. Tester and Rosendale, the Republican state auditor, had been locked in a neck-and-neck race.
With 99 percent of the votes in the state tallied, Tester led Rosendale 49.1 percent to 48 percent with Libertarian Party candidate Rick Breckenridge getting 2.9 percent.
The president has reason to be pleased with Republicans expanding their majority in the Senate, but I have a hunch the outcome of the Montana race stings.
That’s because Trump made this one personal.
After the Ronny Jackson fiasco, the president made little effort to hide his personal passion to destroy Tester. A recent New York Times report explained that Trump viewed the race against the Montanan as a “vendetta” against Tester.
To that end, Trump traveled to Montana four times, including hosting a rally as recently as this past weekend, all in the hopes of carrying Republican Matt Rosendale over the finish line.
By all appearances, the president wanted to make a statement: if Trump really hates someone, especially in a red state, he could fight tooth and nail to ensure his enemy’s downfall. The message to other members of Congress who got in his way would be unmistakable: Trump could bring down Jon Tester, and he can bring down you, too.
Unfortunately for the president, voters had other ideas.