Heard on the Hill

Take 5: Sen. Jon Tester

How a Montana boy became a Washington Nationals fan

Sen. Jon Tester shows off his farm on the desktop background on his computer screen. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana talks to Take 5 about farming, teaching and why he’s a Nationals fan.  

Q : You live on a farm . What are you working on for the spring?  

A : I planted garbanzo beans, which they tell me will go just fine and do good things to the soil. We’ve gotten great moisture this spring, so I’m hoping it makes me rich.  

My grandfather homesteaded [the farm] over 100 years ago. … We took it over in 1978 when I graduated from college. Before that, buffalo owned it and when I was a kid, there used to be buffalo bones all over.  

Q : You come back here with beef that you butcher on your farm. Do any colleagues ask for some?  

Sen. Jon Tester shows off the cowboy boots he wears to work every day. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Jon Tester shows off the cowboy boots he wears to work every day. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A : I never have given them any because they’re an ungrateful lot. No, they on occasion ask when I’m going to invite them over for a steak and I would love to invite them over for a steak, but unfortunately we don’t have any time. We don’t get anything done here but we don’t have any time either.  

Q : What in the Senate reminds you of your time as an elementary school music teacher?  

A : It’s very similar. This is kind of like grade school. What I miss about teaching kids is they’re like a sponge — they soak in everything you do. Not only what you teach them in the classroom, but also how you act, how you treat other people. And that’s why teachers, short of parents, are probably the most important group in our society because they have such a big impact on what the future of this country is going to be. And, I would like to think that we have the same kind of impact here in Congress.  

Q : I hear you’re an avid sports fan. What team do you follow?  

A : Baseball is my favorite sport and when we took the farm over in the '70s, my dad had a 100-foot TV antenna and we had a couple Canadian TV stations. We would see the [Montreal] Expos play and I became an Expos fan. So, then when the Expos moved to Washington, I’m a Nats fan. I’m not a Nats fan because I live in D.C. part time; I’m a Nats fan because I was an Expos fan before the Expos were cool.  

Q : If you could change one thing about Washington, what would it be?  

A : The weather. It is too cold or too hot here. When it comes to livable days, there ain't many here, especially not compared to Montana and that might seem kind of weird because Montana is known for cold winters.  

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