Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana still doesn't know who his Republican opponent will be in the November midterm elections. But the Democratic lawmaker is already under fire from President Donald Trump and other GOP critics who blame him for scuttling Ronny Jackson's bid to become the secretary of Veterans Affairs.
Now, conservative politicians and groups, including one linked to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, are considering flooding the airwaves with attack ads against the senator that carry a dual message: Tester has failed to protect veterans, and he hasn't lived up to his promise of avoiding K Street lobbyists.
"Tester is the nail, and the message of what he did to Adm. Jackson is going to be the hammer because it's also representative of the way veterans in general have been treated by the VA," Troy Downing, one of the numerous Republicans vying for Tester's seat and a veteran himself, told CNBC. "And despite Tester's protestations to the contrary, he has failed them."
Tester, a member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, publicized allegations against Jackson as the White House physician's confirmation hearing neared. Jackson was accused of being drunk while on duty and of handing out drugs without prescriptions, among other things. Jackson eventually withdrew his nomination, which led the president to call on Tester to resign.