Tester takes 1 point lead over Rosendale as urban votes come in

Tuesday night’s vote-counting proved slow, leaving both incumbent Sen. Jon Tester, left, and challenger Matt Rosendale, right, uncertain of the outcome early Wednesday.

Montana’s U.S. Senate race remained too close to call early Wednesday, with first one and then the other candidate posting a razor-thin lead and election officials saying a winner might not be declared until later Wednesday.

Democratic Sen. Jon Tester was pinning his quest for re-election on returns yet to be counted in the state’s more liberal urban areas, while Republican challenger Matt Rosendale hoped rural Montana would provide the votes he needed.

As of 10 a.m., with 491 precincts fully reporting and 175 partially reporting, Tester had 211,596 votes to Rosendale’s 210,575 votes, representing a 1 point lead. Libertarian Rick Breckenridge had 3 percent of the total, or 12,527.

While most of the votes in rural Montana have been counted, those in urban counties continued. It’s there where Tester has received the strongest support.

The race drew national attention for months because of the Democratic Party’s hope to wrest control of the Senate from President Donald Trump and the Republicans.

Trump responded with an unprecedented four trips to Montana to stump for Rosendale, along with visits by other top Republicans and the leaders of conservative interest group.

Nationally, the Republicans held onto the Senate Tuesday night – regardless of the final outcome in Montana. Democrats did manage to take back control of the U.S. House, though.