HELENA, Mont. (AP) _ U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns conceded defeat to Jon Tester on Thursday, acknowledging that a tight election had gone to the Democrats' favor, Burns' campaign told The Associated Press.

Burns, a three-term senator whose campaign was troubled by verbal gaffes and voter discontent, congratulated Tester, a farmer and state legislator.

``I stand ready to help as Montana transitions to a new United States Senator,'' Burns said in a statement provided to the AP. ``We fought the good fight and we came up just a bit short. We've had a good 18 years and I am proud of my record.''

In a statement, Burns says his campaign ``fought the good fight and we came up just a bit short.''