HELENA — With primary Election Day about a week and a half away, we’re getting one final look at the financial picture in Montana’s two U.S. House races.
Montana congressional candidates made their “pre-primary” campaign finance disclosures this week. Over the last month and a half, fundraising continued and spending really heated up.
In the 1st Congressional District, covering western Montana, former Congressman and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke extended his fundraising lead in the Republican primary. He has brought in another $462,472 since April 1, bringing his total for the election cycle to $2,947,291. Zinke’s campaign spent $796,293 in the most recent period, including more than $500,000 for TV, radio, digital and other forms of advertising.
Former state Sen. Al Olszewski of Kalispell reported raising $31,720 in that period, for a total of $709,684 during the campaign. He spent $219,843 during that time, including about $150,000 for mailers and TV advertising.
Kalispell businesswoman Mary Todd’s campaign brought in $280,505, with $254,099 of that coming from Todd loaning her own money. She has spent $336,218 in April and May, including around $300,000 for television ads and media production.
In the Democratic race, Missoula attorney Monica Tranel reported raising $207,077 since April 1, bringing her total for the campaign to $882,230. She spent $375,049 over the same period, with about $300,000 of it going toward advertising and media production.
In addition, Montanans for a Better Congress – a super PAC, required to operate independently of campaigns – spent $109,000 on TV ads supporting Tranel and criticizing her opponent Cora Neumann.
Neumann, a nonprofit executive from Bozeman, brought in $162,332 – less than Tranel’s campaign for this period, though Neumann has raised more overall, $1,334,441. Her campaign also spent more: $662,617, including more than $500,000 for ads, printing and digital consulting.
Former state Rep. Tom Winter brought in more than $13,627 this period, for a total of $108,545 during the campaign. He spent $23,460.48, including $5,000 for digital consulting.
In Montana’s 2nd Congressional District, covering central and eastern Montana, incumbent Republican Rep. Matt Rosendale raised $233,073 and spent $131,975 in April and May, leaving him with $1,137,244 still on hand.
The race for the Democratic nomination in the east was reshaped by the death of State Sen. Mark Sweeney, who had been the leading fundraiser in that primary. Penny Ronning, a former Billings city councilmember, brought in $8,299 in the most recent period, bringing her total for the campaign to $47,320.45. She spent $15,448 after April 1. Skylar Williams of Billings has raised and spent a total of about $4,000 during the campaign.
Gary Buchanan, who is trying to qualify for the eastern district ballot as an independent, raised $45,750 in the latest period and spent $32,055 – including about $16,000 on TV, Facebook and newspaper ads.
For five other Republican candidates, there were no updated financial reports available on Friday: Mitch Heuer and Matt Jette in the west, and Kyle Austin, James Boyette and Charles Walking Child in the east.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to include new fundraising numbers for Penny Ronning.