Jon Tester is a third-generation Montana dirt farmer who brings his Montana values with him to the U.S. Senate. Whether Jon is on the farm, traveling the state to meet with Montanans, or on the job in D.C., we can count on him to defend Montana and fight for the folks who understand a hard day’s work.
That’s why Jon is relentless in standing up to outsiders who are hell-bent on changing our way of life by buying Montana for themselves and driving up the cost to live here. There are those who want to change Montana—but Jon will always stand tough by fighting corruption in Washington and taking on anyone, no matter how powerful, to do what’s right for us just like he always has.
Jon Comes from Montana
Jon was born in Havre in 1956. He grew up on land in Chouteau County that his grandparents homesteaded over 100 years ago—and he grew up with their values, too. A meat grinder accident cost Jon three fingers on his left hand when he was nine years old, but a childhood steeped in family agriculture gave him the values that have defined his career.
Jon first met Sharla Bitz, who went to the same church, after her father took over their family farm in the 1970s. After Sharla struck Jon out during a game of softball at a youth barbecue, the rest was history. They got married during Jon’s senior year at the University of Great Falls.
After Jon graduated with a music degree, he taught music at F. E. Miley Elementary School in Big Sandy. Jon and Sharla have three children: Christine, who was born around the time the Testers moved back to Jon’s grandparents’ farm and butcher shop; their son Shon; and Melody, a close friend of Christine’s who they were blessed to welcome to their house years later. To this day, Jon and Sharla continue to work the land just outside of Big Sandy.
A History of Defending Montana
When the Tester family’s neighbor decided to retire from the Montana Senate, Jon, fed up with huge rate hikes following the disastrous deregulation of Montana’s energy industry, ran for the seat—and won. And in 2005, mad as hell about the rampant corruption and irresponsible decision-making out in Washington, Jon decided to run for the U.S. Senate—and won.
Jon, a longtime champion of transparency, immediately made history as the first member of Congress to post his daily public schedule on his website, which he still does to this day. He helped pass sweeping ethics reform, and then went beyond those rules and banned all gifts, meals, and travel from lobbyists for himself and for his staff. He barred any staffers who become lobbyists from lobbying him or being rehired. Jon’s record on transparency earned him the title, “Montana’s advocate for accountability.”
Jon has worked hard to deliver for Montana families. He is a fierce defender of Medicare and Social Security, a tireless advocate for veterans, and will never stop fighting to improve our schools, tackle rising costs, and invest in rural America.
Jon continues to burn shoe leather traveling the state. Jon is the only member of the Montana delegation to host regular in-person town hall meetings. Jon holds Farm Bill listening sessions, veterans listening sessions, works closely with Montana’s tribal nations, and criss-crosses the state to meet with folks in Montana’s rural communities. Jon works relentlessly every day to make sure all Montanans have a voice in D.C.
Getting Things Done for Montana
Jon takes the feedback he hears from Montanans and brings it to Washington. Jon has worked with Republicans to get things done, and he’ll stand up to both parties to do what’s right for Montana. It’s why Jon is ranked one of the most effective senators in Washington – of either party – and has gotten more bills signed into law than any other member of Congress this year.
Jon’s work has improved access to services for our veterans, cracked down on corruption and cronyism in Washington, lowered prescription drug costs, and secured more resources for our Border Patrol and military.
Jon’s not done getting things done for Montana. Whether it is in Washington, back on the farm, or in meetings across the state, Jon will always relentlessly defend our Montana way of life.
After all, with his trademark flattop haircut ($12, plus tip), Jon Tester has always been a Montanan.