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The Latest: Montana Sen. Tester survives Trump onslaught

November 7, 2018
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Sen. Jon Tester surrounded by family and supporters, announces his victory Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, in Great Falls, Mont. Tester has won a third term in the U.S. Senate by beating Republican Matt Rosendale. Tester won Tuesday's close election despite President Donald Trump taking a personal interest in defeating him. (AP Photo/Peter Banda)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Latest on Montana’s U.S. Senate race (all times local):

4:55 p.m.

Montana Sen. Jon Tester is a rare survivor from President Donald Trump’s aggressive campaign to unseat Democrats in Republican-leaning states.

The president repeatedly returned to Montana, North Dakota, Missouri and Indiana, where he pounded on Tester and other lawmakers who opposed his Supreme Court picks, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.

Conservative groups followed Trump’s lead with tens of millions of dollars in attack ads.

In Montana, it boosted Republican state Auditor Matt Rosendale from political obscurity. He came up just short in a race that set a state record for political spending.

But Tester won a third term after ducking Trump’s jabs and sticking to a message heavy on health care that was targeted at female voters and veterans.

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11:50 a.m.

Montana Senate candidate Matt Rosendale has conceded defeat following a close-fought campaign against incumbent Democratic Sen. Jon Tester.

Spokesman Shane Scanlon said the Republican State auditor spoke with Tester to congratulate him late Wednesday morning.

Rosendale issued a statement thanking his supporters and pledging to continue to work to lower health care costs and hold the line on government spending.

He entered the race relatively unknown. But he came close to denying Tester a third term after President Donald Trump took a personal interest in the race and visited Montana repeatedly on Rosendale’s behalf.

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11 a.m.

Montana Democrat Jon Tester has won a third term in the U.S. Senate by beating Republican Matt Rosendale.

Tester won Tuesday’s close election despite President Donald Trump taking a personal interest in defeating him.

Trump and his surrogates made repeated trips to Montana after the president vowed last spring that Tester would pay at the polls for sinking his first nominee for Veterans Affairs secretary, White House physician Ronny Jackson.

Trump’s comments led to both Republican and Democratic groups spending tens of millions of dollars in an attempt to influence the outcome of the race.

Tester insisted that Montana voters across the political spectrum would support him after examining his record.

The Montana seat was one of 10 held by Senate Democrats seeking re-election in states Trump won in 2016.

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9:50 a.m.

Montana’s contentious U.S. Senate race remains too close to call with votes still being tallied in key counties.

Election results are coming in Wednesday for major population centers including Missoula, Gallatin, Cascade and Yellowstone counties.

Campaign representatives say Democratic incumbent Sen. Jon Tester is in Great Falls awaiting the results and Republican State Auditor Matt Rosendale is in Helena.

Rosendale put up a strong challenge with a boost from President Donald Trump. The president vowed last spring that Tester would pay at the polls for releasing allegations that toppled Trump’s first nominee for Veterans Affairs secretary.

Republican and Democratic groups spent tens of millions of dollars to influence the outcome of the election in a state Trump won by 20 percentage points in 2016.

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