Democrat Jon Tester, left, and friend, Democratic Party activist, Joe Lamson, share a hug, NTTAWWT. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

 

Montana Democrat Senator Jon Tester is locked in a tough fight with challenger Republican Matt Rosendale. Tester has maintained a steady margin-of-error lead over Rosendale in the poll, but Montana went for Trump by 20 points in 2016 and Trump’s approval/disapproval rating is still +6 percentage points.

Tester was key in sandbagging Trump’s choice to head the Department of Veterans Affairs and he voted against confirming Brett Kavanaugh, so he’s on unsteady ground, and when the NRA weighed in against him this week, downgrading his rating to a “D,” the ground got more unsteady.

What no one could have counted on was how Tester’s communications director responded:

“Shooting hundreds of cows and hogs.”

Well, that’s going to lock in the Western sportsman vote, for sure.

And from there, well, it was turtles all the way down.

Apparently, this bizarre claim comes from the fact that, for a few years, Tester managed the custom slaughterhouse run by his family. I don’t know how they dispatched the beasts but odds are it wasn’t by gunshot. Even if they did use firearms to kill the animals, I’m not sure what kind of Second Amendment or gun rights cred that gives you.

The more likely reason is desperation. Desperation causes everyone, but particularly vulnerable politicians, to do and say strange stuff. My guess is that Tester’s internal polling is showing that he’s undergoing a slow-motion collapse that could turn into a landslide unless staunched. The NRA rating downgrade has the potential to set off that landslide. And so Tester’s communications guy, who obviously isn’t terribly bright, came out swinging. And he though slaughtering domestic animals in the hundreds would appeal to red-blooded Montanans. Let’s see if he’s right.