Sen. Jon Tester, Montana Democrat, saw his National Rifle Association rating downgraded Tuesday to a “D,” even though his campaign said he has shot “hundreds of cows and hogs.”
The NRA Institute for Legislative Action said Mr. Tester, who has long billed himself as a Second Amendment supporter, was dinged for his vote against the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, who was ultimately confirmed.
“D.C. Jon Tester once again joined forces with Chuck Schumer and anti-gun liberals to vote against our fundamental right to self-defense,” said Chris W. Cox, chairman of the NRA Political Victory Fund.
“Actions speak louder than words,” he continued. “Downgrading Jon Tester to a ‘D’ sends a clear message to Montanans that Jon Tester can’t be trusted to protect our constitutional rights.”
Tester spokesman Chris Meagher responded with a Tuesday tweet touting Mr. Tester’s gun savvy, insisting that he knew more about firearms than Republican challenger Matt Rosendale because the Democrat made a living “shooting hundreds of cows and hogs.”
The comment drew a barrage of rejoinders on social media — several called Mr. Tester a “cow assassin” — prompting Mr. Meagher to explain that “yes — he butchered cows.”
Mr. Meagher has made previous references to the senator’s livestock-shooting prowess. After the NRA launched a $383,196 ad buy last month against Mr. Tester, the campaign pointed to his “strong record of relentlessly defending the Second Amendment and Montanans’ personal freedoms.”
“While Matt Rosendale was turning farms into suburbs in Maryland, Jon Tester was making a living with a gun slaughtering more than a hundred animals a year as a butcher,” Mr. Meagher said in a Sept. 12 statement to the Great Falls Tribune.
The Tester camp has mocked Mr. Rosendale, the state auditor, for being a non-native — he moved to Montana from Maryland in 2002 — while the Republican took a jab at Mr. Tester for his falling NRA rating.
“With that kind of record it’s beyond clear that you can’t trust Tester to protect our #2A Rights!” Mr. Rosendale tweeted.
Mr. Tester, fighting for a third Senate term in a state President Trump won in 2016 by 20 points, holds a slim 3-point lead over Mr. Rosendale, according to the Real Clear Politics average.