Montana Senate Becomes Abortion Battle: Rehberg v. Tester

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 1, 2011   |   7:31PM   |   Helena, MT

When voters in Montana go to the polls next year to decide on a senator to represent them in Washington, they will likely face a stark contrast on abortion between current pro-abortion Sen. Jon Tester and pro-life U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg.

Rehberg, the popular Republican congressman, will give up his generally safe House seat to take on Tester, who campaigned as a moderate Democrat but has walked the pro-abortion line since coming to Washington. Rehberg will make the announcement official on Saturday and turn what was though to be a somewhat safe Tester re-election bid in to one of the most closely watched races in the country next year.

The pro-life congressman first ran for the U.S. Senate against pro-abortion Sen. Max Baucus, losing in 1996. Since then, he has never lost a race for the House with less than 59 percent of the vote. Both Tester and Rehberg have about the same amount of money in their respective campaign accounts, Roll Call reports, and outside groups — including pro-life organizations will weigh in heavily on Rehberg’s side.

That’s because Tester has a 100% pro-abortion voting record, including supporting the Obamacare legislation that contains rationing concerns and massive abortion funding. Tester also voted against limiting taxpayer funding of groups that promote and perform abortions overseas, voted against providing health insurance for unborn children of poor women, voting against limiting funding of the UNFPA and its work with China’s forced abortion one-child policy, and voted against limiting taxpayer funding of abortions in health care.

Rehberg, on the other hand, has a consistently pro-life voting record dating back to his first session in the House and worked closely with pro-life groups on legislation and amendments. He was the keynote at a large pro-life event in Helena years ago that Right to Life of Montana sponsored that was well-received by the crowd.

To show the closeness of the race, the Democratic-leaning automated pollster Public Policy Polling released a survey recently showing Rehberg at 48 percent and Tester 46 percent with Montana voters. Both candidates have essentially identical approval ratings across the state.

The Montana race will become one of the top ten Senate races in 2012 that pro-life advocates will be watching and hoping to pick up. Rehberg will likely have an easy walk to the GOP nomination as former lieutenant governor nominee Steve Daines announced he would shift his attention to Rehberg’s House seat after learning the congressman would run for the Senate. He had previously been a declared Senate candidate.