A Day in the Life of Senator Jon Tester


by Tim Franklin

A farmer from Big Sandy, Senator Jon Tester is not your average politician. Nearly 100 years ago, his grandparents homesteaded on the same land he and his wife Sharla live on today.

Born in Havre and educated at the college of Great Falls, he was elected to represent Montanans in the United States Senate.

Last week, the Senator granted News Channel 5 an exclusive, behind-the scenes look at his daily routine in Washington, D.C.

The day begins at 6:00. Senator Tester leaves his Capitol Hill home, and walks to work. First stop is, the Senate Gym for a workout. Then he walks to his home away from home, the Hart Senate Office Building.

His staff of 18 is crucial in daily operations, as Communications Staffer Andrea Helling briefs the Senator on his upcoming events. Then it's off to his weekly constituents coffee meeting with Senator Max Baucus, and 30 to 100 Montanans who are visiting D.C.

"I get to represent the best people on earth,” said Senator Tester. “The people in the state of Montana."
Senator Tester is in the middle of an unlikely journey that has taken him from the farms of rural Montana all they way to the nation's largest political stage.

Long Before his days on Capitol Hill, the Big Sandy farmer was a man of many hats, working as a teacher, a basketball referee, a school board member, and a butcher.

"I have the wounds to show for it. Most people who process meat have something happen to an appendage. It helped with our income and helped us pay the bills."

On this day, the senator meets with officials from the Montana Mountain Biking Alliance, Flathead Electric Co-Op, and some Montana Auto dealers. He says a career in government was inspired by early influences.

"My folks talked about Government and public service, I've always had a fascination with politics.

But now the big question on the minds of all Montanans. What is the senator's favorite movie?

"My favorite movie is The Shawshank Redemption."

The day continues with more meetings, including one with former Congressman Pat Williams of Montana and a group from CARE. He is scheduled to meet with the Montana Pork Producers, but they patiently wait as he is called to vote.

“They just called a vote. I have to go.”

The senator offers this advice to young people considering a career in politics:

"Get involved in public service. In a state with term limits like Montana, you can get involved in politics an an early age. Help shape your community the way you want it to be shaped.”

Senator Jon Tester is not your average senator. He has another job. He flies home to Big Sandy every weekend with his wife Sharla. And With the help of family members, they keep the farm running.

"I consider myself very blessed with two jobs. One in the Ag community and one is public service. I'm the only farmer in the US Senate."

Each day is a long one, but growing up on the farm in Big Sandy, that is something Senator Jon Tester is already used to.