“Last election cycle, we were supposed to win a majority in the Senate, we were supposed to win a lot of seats in the House and Hillary Clinton was supposed to win the presidency. None of that happened,” Tester told a gathering of Montana Democrats.
Tester said he saw some hope in grassroots efforts that have risen in typically Republican areas in reaction to Donald Trump’s presidency, which he hoped would help recruit local candidates and feed on-the-ground organizing efforts.
“There are little groups of folks that we never thought there were any Democrats in and all of the sudden 20 people are showing up,” Tester told the group. “Get those people organized, get them to work, get them to write letters to the editor.”
Tough races are familiar to Tester, who won in 2012 by just a few percentage points, and first won election in 2006 by just a few thousand votes. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the Senate race Tilts Democrat.
Montana Democrats were disappointed at the ballot just months ago, when Republican Greg Gianforte defeated progressive Rob Quist. Though the race was initially expected to be an easy GOP victory, Quist surged late in the election with some help from Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Tester said he hopes that Democrats will try and contest the Montana Legislature again. Democrats last held a majority in both houses in 2005.
“Don’t think that for one minute if we continue to do the things we’ve done in the past we’re going to win,” he said. “We have to do more than that. We have to go farther than that.”