Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat facing re-election in heavily Republican Montana, will make a joint appearance with former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney next week in Washington, according to an invitation reviewed by McClatchy.
The two are headlining a fundraiser to benefit the official foundation of Yellowstone National Park, a park that is partially located in Tester's home state. The gathering, first reported by McClatchy, will take place on May 4 at Hawthorne, a bar and restaurant less than two miles from the White House.
The Tester-Romney appearance is notable because Tester is a top target of Republicans, who are already zeroing in on Democrats running in red states in 2018.
Last November, President Donald Trump won Montana by around 20 percentage points. Since then, conservative groups have repeatedly bombarded red state Democrats such as Tester with pressure campaigns over everything from backing Trump's Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch, to urging confirmation of Scott Pruitt, Trump's choice to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Tester opposed both nominations, and he has drawn the ire of a panoply of prominent conservative groups.
But Tester, who chaired the Democratic Senate campaign arm last cycle, also has experience with cutting a profile distinct from the national Democratic Party. In 2012, Romney won Montana by 13.5 percentage points—and Tester also won, albeit by about four percentage points (Romney backed Tester’s Republican opponent at the time).
Tester is a vocal champion of preserving Yellowstone. The May 4 fundraiser is an opportunity for Tester to flash bipartisan bona fides while also aiding a cause that’s relevant back home.
“At a time when proposed budget cuts are threatening our national parks, the generosity and support from private citizens goes a long way,” he said in a statement to McClatchy. “I'm honored to partner with Gov. Romney to ensure our public lands get the support they deserve.”
The 7 p.m. nonpartisan event, aimed at young professionals, is hosted by Yellowstone Forever Young Patrons, which raises money for the park's fundraising partner, Yellowstone Forever. Tickets start at $95.