Pro-Sheehy super PAC hits Tester on southern border in new ad

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A super PAC backing Republican Senate candidate Tim Sheehy in Montana is launching its first general election ad campaign targeting Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) over his comments on the southern border.

More Jobs, Less Government, a pro-Sheehy super PAC, is spending roughly $1.5 million on the ad, which spotlights comments from Tester opposing a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and crediting President Biden for his handling of the border. Details of the ad campaign were obtained exclusively by The Hill.

The 30-second ad cites an interview Tester gave in which he said Biden had “helped” secure the southern border, as well as a March 2023 interview with NPR in which the senator said “a wall from sea to shining sea is not the way to go.”

While Tester has been critical of the situation of the southern border in recent weeks, the ad reflects how Sheehy allies are working to tie him to Biden, who remains unpopular with much of the public.

“No matter how much Jon Tester attempts to fool Montanans into believing that he is some sort of ‘moderate,’ there is no running from his pro-Biden, leftwing record on the border,” Andy Surabian, chief strategist for More Jobs, Less Government, said in a statement to The Hill.

“Tester has supported Biden’s open border agenda every step of the way and no one has been a bigger opponent of building President Trump’s border wall than he has been,” Surabian added.

The ad will run from May 7 through June 3 on cable and broadcast channels in the Missoula and Bozeman markets in Montana, as well as digitally.

Tester, who is also one of the most vulnerable senators up for reelection, has been outspoken at times about the situation at the border, particularly with regards to fentanyl coming into the U.S. He confronted Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas at a hearing last month about the situation.

“The fact is the border needs to be fixed, and we need to step up as Congress, the administration needs to step up, you need to step up,” Tester said, his voice rising in volume.

“If we’re able to do that, we can fix it, but it’s going to take continuous due diligence on the border to make it happen,” he added.

Tester’s campaign in a statement to The Hill pointed to the senator’s efforts to secure funding for the border wall, border patrol personnel and to target fentanyl trafficking.

“He will continue to fight to pass one of the toughest border security bills in decades and crack down on the fentanyl crisis,” the campaign said. “Meanwhile, Tim Sheehy opposes the bipartisan border security bill endorsed by border patrol agents, and repeatedly called to defund the agency in charge of securing the border.”

There has been limited polling in the race between Tester and Sheehy, but surveys that have been published show a close contest.

A March survey from Emerson College Polling/The Hill published in early March found that when Montana voters were asked about a hypothetical Senate match-up between Tester and Sheehy, 44 percent backed Tester, while 42 percent supported Sheehy. Fourteen percent of respondents said they were undecided. 

A poll published in late March from J.L. Partners found Sheehy leading Tester by 3 percentage points, 48-45.

Updated at 9:44 p.m. EDT

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