By MATT BALDWIN Daily Inter Lake

Sen. Jon Tester let out a loud cheer with a fist pump as he entered the packed ballroom upstairs at the Museum at Central School on Saturday.

The Democratic U.S. senator from Big Sandy, who already is campaigning for his own re-election next year, was in Kalispell to support Rob Quist in his push for Montana’s lone U.S. House seat. The get-out-the-vote event drew hundreds of friendly supporters who cheered with pep-rally enthusiasm and waved campaign signs as Tester made his pitch for Quist as the common-man candidate.

“You want to talk about a shot fired across the bow — if we elect Rob Quist to Congress this will reverberate around this country,” Tester told the cheering audience.

Quist, a musician from the Flathead, is battling with Republican businessman Greg Gianforte and Libertarian Mark Wicks in the May 25 special election. Montana’s House seat was left vacant when Ryan Zinke was appointed Interior secretary.

Tester said the difference between Quist and Gianforte “couldn’t be greater.”

“[Quist has] felt the same challenges that we have as Montanans,” Tester said, making reference to Quist’s financial past and related health issues.

“Rob struggled, he paid and he went forth,” Tester said.

“The other guy? He wants to support a bill that takes health care away from 70,000 Montanans right off the top.”

Following Tester on stage, Quist spoke for about 20 minutes on a range of topics covering health care, public education, taxes, public lands and women’s rights. He also recited a poem he had written about Montana.

Quist said he’d oppose any effort to defund Planned Parenthood, and called the battle over access to public lands “a fight for the soul” of the state.

He took a few swipes at his Republican opponent, knocking Gianforte for charging an entrance fee to some of his campaign events.

Both candidates have drawn big names to the state to support their respective campaigns.

Vice President Mike Pence was in Billings on Friday to stump for Gianforte, and President Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., has made two appearances in Montana this spring to support the Republican.

Next weekend Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont will make appearances in Missoula, Butte, Billings and Bozeman to rally for Quist. Actress Alyssa Milano was in the state last month to support the Democrat.

via Daily Inter Lake