Posted: Oct 19, 2012 8:44 AM by Marnee Banks - MTN News
Updated: Oct 19, 2012 9:13 AM
HELENA - The race between incumbent U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D) and challenger U.S. Representative Denny Rehberg (R) is one of the biggest Senate races in the nation.
With millions of dollars in ads, high-profile news coverage, and polls showing the race a dead heat, both Jon and Denny are not just politicians, they are Montanans.
"When you turn on the TV and see the commercials trying to depict me as someone that I'm not, we have got to beat that back," Jon told a crowd in Butte.
He's a Montana farmer from Big Sandy who still drives the combine and harvests his own crops.
He sports a crew cut, and proudly waves his left hand missing three fingers in the air.
When he isn't working in DC, he's traveling across Montana with his staff and of course his wife, Sharla.
"I want to thank the most important member of my support team, she is my best friend, she's my closest adviser, she's my business partner, my wife of 34 years, and where ever we go she's the one people get in line to talk to, Sharla Tester," Jon tells a group of Democrats at a rally.
For Jon, it's about balancing the work of a Senator, farmer, husband, father and grandfather.
"The best part about having kids is they have kids and then you get to deal with the grandkids and there is no responsibility," Jon chuckles.
Behind the scenes you'll find him joking with his staff, and laughing a lot, a laugh that's contagious.
But when it comes to why he does what he does, the tone changes.
"The good Lord opens doors, he opens them up and you have a choice as a person, you can either walk through those doors or say nah, it's not for me," Jon explains. "In 2006 the door was open to run for the US Senate."
Now as he pushes into the last leg of the 2012 campaign, he wants voters to know this race isn't just about politics, it's about electing a leader who understands the struggles and successes of being a Montanan.
"I'm no different that every other Montanan, you know 3rd generation, hardworking, Montanan that likes to work together with people to get things done," Jon smiles.
As Jon's challenger travels the state campaigning he's always talking about his Montana roots.
"I love being a Montanan, and I am lucky to have had a great, great grandfather that moved here way back in the 1860s and lucky enough to have been born and raised on a ranch and still live on that ranch," Denny explains.
Denny's home is in Billings, when he isn't in Washington or back home he's on the road with his state director Randy Vogel. It's mostly business with these two, but it's obvious they have a great working relationship.
Denny is not only a Congressman, he's a drummer who listens to AC/DC and ZZ Top, a helicopter pilot, and his athletic ability brought he and his wife Jan together.
"I was a gymnast in college and high school and I was asked to teach the high school cheerleaders gymnastics." Denny recalls. "That's where I met her."
Most people don't get to see Denny let loose, it's because he takes his job seriously.
"Ultimately I believe that I will be successful in being the next United States Senator for the State of Montana because of the things I believe in and that is in fact faith, and family and freedom," Rehberg tells a group of Republicans supporting his campaign.
These two men agree they don't have much in common politically, but with all the campaign noise it's important for voters to know the man behind the vote.
Make sure to watch MTN's live televised debate between Jon and Denny. It airs Saturday, Oct. 20, at 9 pm on KBZK.
You can also catch it online here at KBZK.com.