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Sen. Jon Tester didn't waste much time after winning his re-election bid last fall. One week after that victory, the U.S. Senate approved his proposal to provide disabled veterans a cost-of-living increase. During the first weeks of the 2013 Congress, he pressured politicians on the Hill to approve the Violence Against Women Act, which passed in February. Tester has since introduced legislation to modernize Senate campaign reporting, and announced he'll serve as co-chair of a bipartisan Congressional caucus charged with overseeing initiatives to help disabled and low-income students attend college. He even moved into a bigger office.

But that's not all Tester's been working on, as evidenced by a photo tweeted earlier this month by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri. The shot showed Tester, already well known for his flat-top haircut, sporting what McCaskill called "a new accessory he grew home in Montana." Her tweet included the hash-tag "beardcaucus," a trend now largely dominated by reactions to Tester's new facial hair. That's right. The farmer from Big Sandy got a goatee:

Missoula Independent news

Asked if the chin wig will be a lasting change in Tester's second term, Communications Director Andrea Helling said simply that "Jon is trying out a new look." Desperate for more, we dialed Tester's longtime barber, Bill Graves, at the Riverview Barbershop on Division Road in Great Falls. Graves first saw the new goatee a week or so ago when Tester stopped in for his latest haircut. "I laughed like hell about it," Graves recalls. Apparently Tester's been busy seeding wheat and barley on the farm the past few weeks, and told Graves the new look was his "seeding goatee."

Graves agrees it "looks pretty good," and if there's an authority on Tester's hair, it's Graves. He's been cutting the senator's hair for 30 years, and was featured in a Tester campaign ad last year. But whether the whiskers will stick around is anyone's guess. "As soon as he gets done with his wheat farming, he'll cut it off," Graves says. "That's what he said. But maybe it's the new him."

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