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Sen. Jon Tester Backhandedly Accused His Opponent Of Turning Montana Into A Millionaire’s Playground

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) wasted no time painting his Republican opponent, Tim Sheehy, as a threat to public lands and the Montana way of life during the first debate of what is widely seen as one of the most contested races in 2024.

The three-term incumbent said “Montana’s values are on the line” in November.

“The bottom line is Montana is changing. We’re seeing a lot of folks come into the state — rich folks — who want to try to buy our state, to try to change it into something it’s not,” Tester said. “Unfortunately, many of these folks are coming in, they’re buying big ranches. They’re locking people off of not only that ranch, but the public lands around it. And that’s not what Montana is about.”

It was one of many subtle jabs Tester took at Sheehy during the event on Sunday, which came just days after both candidates cruised to victory in their respective primaries.

“Folks are coming in here and buying two, three houses, making this into their personal playground. That’s not right,” Tester said, adding that when it comes to Montana’s housing crisis, Sheehy is part of the problem.

Sheehy swung back at Tester’s repeated jabs at him for being an outsider.

“Well, you heard it again — if you come here from out of state, you’re part of the problem,” Sheehy said. “If you’re not from here, Jon Tester doesn’t think your voice matters, apparently.”

A pro-Donald Trump conservative and decorated ex-Navy SEAL, Sheehy moved to Montana in 2014 after retiring from the military, and he built a successful aerial firefighting company. With his wealth, Sheehy has purchased multimillion-dollar properties on Flathead Lake and in the lavish resort community of Big Sky. In 2020, he purchased three contiguous ranches , spanning some

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