TESTER TEST. A year ago, I had a chance to sit down in Great Falls, Montana, with Senate candidate Jon Tester, who is in DC now for fundraising events and meet-n-greets. The one thing he said last July that still sticks in my memory was this reflection on the life he and his wife have been living in Montana for 48 years: �We�ve got a great quality of life where we live. Washington will not be a step up; it�ll be a step down as far as quality of life goes.� All politicians tell you how much more they like their home district than Washington, but somehow you just knew he was serious as a heart attack when he said it.

I popped in at a house party last night here in DC hosted by a native Montanan who was meeting Tester for the first time. I wanted to see if Tester�s recent victory in the Senate primary, his current lead over Conrad Burns in the polls, and being dressed in a suit and tie at a Capitol Hill fundraiser might just reveal a different Jon Tester than the one I met a year ago. Nope. It was the same guy. When I asked him how he felt about moving to DC now that the prospects of that happening are a helluva lot greater than they were last July, his answer hadn�t changed.

--Tom Schaller