At a Glance
- Career History: President, Montana State Senate (2005-2007); Minority Leader, Montana State Senate, (2003-2005); Minority Whip, Montana State Senate (2001-2003)
- Birthday: August 21, 1956
- Hometown: Big Sandy, Mont.
- Alma Mater: University of Great Falls, B.S., 1978
- Spouse: Sharla Tester
- Religion: Church of God
- Committees: Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs ; Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs ; Senate Appropriations; Senate Indian Affairs ; Senate Veterans Affairs; Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations
- DC Office: 724 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC, 20510, (202) 224-2644
- State Offices: Billings, (406) 252-0550; Bozeman, (406) 586-4450;Butte, (406) 723-3277;Glendive, (406) 365-2391;Great Falls, (406) 452-9585; Helena, (406) 449-5401;Kalispell, (406) 257-3360;Missoula, (406) 728-3003
Path to Power
Long before Tester was working Montana crowds, he was working Montana land.
Born in 1956 to David Tester and Helen Pearson, Tester was brought up outside the town of Big Sandy on a homestead staked out by his grandfather four decades earlier. Growing up, he helped his family raise crops and run a custom butcher shop behind their barn. At 9-years-old, Tester lost three fingers from his left hand in a meat grinder-an accident he says changed him from a saxophonist to a trumpet player.
In most respects, Tester's voting behavior puts him in the mainstream of his party, having sided with Senate Democrats in 91.6 percent of votes so far during the 111th Congress.But he has broken with his party when necessary on hot-button issues important to Montana, such as gun control (which he generally opposes) and amnesty for illegal immigrants.
He is pro-abortion rights and supports stem- cell research. He was an outspoken critic of President George W. Bush's handling of the Iraq war. He supports increased funding for alternative energies, including the formation of "Renewable Energy Pilot Offices" in Montana and five other states to ease the permit process for prospective developers.
Tester serves alongside fellow Montanan and Democratic Sen. Max Baucus.
The state's governor, Brian Schweitzer (D), campaigned on Tester's behalf in the 2006 election.