Election 2018: Border Patrol agents, union workers, retired Montanans announce endorsements

“Senator Jon Tester is a relentless defender of our border and our country,” said National Border Patrol Council president and Malta resident Brandon Judd, on right, in endorsing the senator’s reelection. (Courtesy photo)

They’ve been campaigning for months now, but the Montanans vying for the state’s open U.S. House and Senate seats will kick things into overdrive after Labor Day.

Now the countdown to November’s general election gets real.

Each Monday, Missoula Current publishes a roundup of any endorsements we received during the preceding week, with a brief explanation of why each group is backing a particular candidate.

After that, it’s up to you to make a decision and cast your ballot.

National Border Patrol Council: Democratic Sen. Jon Tester picked up a significant endorsement in Billings last week when the National Border Patrol Council, the exclusive representative of about 18,000 U.S. Border Patrol agents and support personnel, gave him the nod.

“Senator Jon Tester is a relentless defender of our border and our country,” National Border Patrol Council president and Malta resident Brandon Judd said. “We are proud to stand with him in his re-election for a safer and more secure border. Jon Tester is tirelessly working to get the brave men and women of the Border Patrol the resources we need to keep this country safe. If we are going to secure our border, we need Jon Tester in Washington.”

Judd is a 20-year veteran of the Border Patrol.

Tester is the ranking member of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, where he said he has focused on delivering “more boots on the ground, more technology on the border and increased efficiency between local law enforcement and the Border Patrol.”

“Keeping Montanans safe is my top priority,” said Tester. “That means we must work in a bipartisan way to secure our border, and make sure the hardworking men and women of the Border Patrol have the resources and support to make that happen. I am proud to receive the endorsement of the National Border Patrol Council and look forward to working with them to keep our country safe.”

Tester faces Republican Matt Rosendale, the state auditor, in November’s general election.

Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA): Kathleen Williams, the Democratic candidate for Montana’s single seat in the U.S. House, is the pick of Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 1686.

In the state’s Senate race, the union endorsed Tester.

LIUNA Local 1686 is a statewide union that represents construction craft laborers and public employees statewide.

“Now more than ever, we need elected officials in Washington, D.C. who will fight for working families instead of their donors,” said Kim Rickard, business manager and secretary treasurer for Local 1886. “It’s time to put America back to work rebuilding our country’s crumbling infrastructure. Both Senator Tester and Kathleen Williams know it’s better to invest in the middle class than the wealthiest 1 percent.”

Williams is challenging first-term Republican incumbent Rep. Greg Gianforte in November’s election.

Montana Alliance for Retired Americans: Democrats Williams and Tester also recently received the endorsement of the Montana Alliance for Retired Americans, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of retired union members and non-union, community-based members. MTARA is its Montana affiliate.

Moffie Funk, president of the Montana Alliance for Retired Americans, explained: “Senator Tester’s commitment to fulfilling the promises of Social Security and Medicare is second to none. However, Senator Tester is currently in the minority when it comes to protecting these beloved programs which lift millions of seniors out of poverty every year. That’s why it’s essential that we elect more politicians who share Jon’s values, like Kathleen Williams who will never steal from Social Security and Medicare in order to pay for tax cuts for the super rich.”

Six Mill Levy: Sometimes, the candidates turn the tables and issue their own endorsements, which is the case with Tester’s endorsement of the Six Mill Levy, or Legislative Referendum 128.

The levy has kept education affordable for all Montanans for the past 70 years, Tester said, but must be renewed by voters this November.

Tester is a former teacher and school board member, as well as a graduate of public schools in Montana.

“When education is affordable and within reach for all Montanans, our communities, our economy, and our democracy are all better off,” Tester said. “Montanans have seen the value in the Six Mill Levy for the last 70 years because we know that investing in our kids, the future of this state, is a Montana value.

“A vote to renew the Six Mill Levy is a vote to give students the educational tools they need to decide their own futures, whether that’s being a Montana farmer, or a United States senator — or maybe even both.”