As has become increasingly apparent, the authors of this site believe that Jon Tester should be the candidate that Democrats choose to challenge Conrad Burns in Novermber. If Democrats want to send Conrad Burns back to Missouri, Jon Tester is the man to do it, and we are happy to endorse his candidacy. We entered this primary season as anything but Tester supporters; in fact, months ago, I asking for reasons why I should prefer one candidate over the other. Day by day, it has become clear that the best choice is Jon Tester. Why? He's better on the issues, and he can defeat Conrad Burns.
Jon Tester has run a more issues-based campaign, and his issues are the issues of Montana's working families.
John Morrison's support for CI-96 tells me a lot about him. It tells me that either he believed in institutionalizing bigotry in the Montana constitution or that he was willing to sell out a group of Montanans for the sake of gaining a few votes from social conservatives. In contrast, Jon Tester acted like a leader, and one who believes that the Constitution should protect the rights of all Montanans. I'd much rather vote for a civil rights leader than a reactionary or opportunist.
Jon Tester has a more clearly articulated (and correct) position on the Iraq War. He has long supported a withdrawal plan by the end of 2006 and support for focusing our attention on true concerns: like the threat of Osama bin Laden, homeland security, and our economic interests. In contrast, Morrison has never moved past vague criticism of permanent bases in Iraq. He doesn't even list the Iraq War, the most important foreign policy issue facing the nation today, on his issues page. The war matters, and voters deserve to know if we will have a Senator who will stand up to the neocon's imperialist ambitions, or just go along. Jon Tester will fight for our security, and better treatment of the men and women in our armed services; what would Morrison do?
Morrison's Iraq problem is symptomatic of a broader lack of specificity in this campaign: voters just don't know what he stands for. This description at MyDD sums it up best:
Morrison has gone with the "electability" campaign route: locking himself in the call room, making sure he doesn't say anything that could offend anyone, and dialing, dialing, dialing.
Jon Tester is a better candidate on the issues that matter to progressives and Montanans. He opposes CAFTA, he supports specific proposals for renewable energy, and he is committed to the interests of working Americans. John Morrison's campaign has simply been more focused on very specific parts of his resume as Auditor, not the things he will do as our Senator.
John Tester has the best chance of defeating Conrad Burns in November. No question. While the polls say that both men would beat Burns today, it seems unlikely that Morrison will be able to prevail in the long run for two reasons. First, his own ethical lapses will make it impossible for him to attack Burns' most important vulnerability. Frankly, he has been dishonest, evasive, and, according to the attorneys who formerly supported him, unethical. More importantly, it seems like Morrison won't be able to handle a tough campaign. If anything, the Tester campaign has been criticized for being too soft on Morrison, and he hasn't handled that challenge very well. From running from a public radio call-in show to really ineffective attacks against Jon Tester, Morrison just hasn't show the kind of campaigning that will allow him to withstand the inevitable, relentless negativity from the Burns staff.
Finally, Jon Tester is going to appeal to a broader range of Montana voters. From John Melcher to Paul Richards, liberal college students to Eastern Montana farmers, Tester can appeal to a much broader audience. Anyone who thinks that Morrison will cut into Conrad Burns' rural base doesn't understand Montana politics.
Democrats have a clear choice next week. We can choose a well-intentioned, manufactured DLC Democrat, or we can select a candidate who represents our values–and can win. Please give Jon Tester your support. His committment to the real values of Montana and the Democratic Party have clearly made him the best choice.