HELENA – Republican U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte has loaned his campaign $1 million this month after his fundraising had lagged behind that of Democratic challenger Kathleen Williams in the past five months.
Through Oct. 17, Williams, a former state lawmaker from Bozeman, had raised about $3 million from donors since mid-May. During that same period, Gianforte raised $1.75 million from donors.
A pair of $500,000 personal loans this month upped his campaign income to $2.75 million since mid-May.
Recent polls have shown Gianforte with a single-digit lead over Williams in the race for Montana’s U.S. House seat. Gianforte, a Bozeman businessman and philanthropist, is running for his first full term, having first won the seat in a special election in May 2017.
Williams has reported strong fundraising since she won a six-way primary in June to become the Democratic nominee. She’s taken in $3.04 million since May 17, almost entirely from individuals, including $411,000 in the first 17 days of October.
About $1.5 million of Gianforte’s $1.75 million take during the same period also has come from individuals. He raised $216,000 from donors during the first 17 days of October.
Williams’ campaign said Gianforte’s loan is a move to “prop up a sagging campaign with his own money to fund the lies and smears that have been the bedrock of his strategy.”
Gianforte’s campaign said he’s grateful for the “overwhelming support” he’s received from Montanans, but that he chose to give his campaign a boost to “match the liberal special interests and out-of-state money fueling the Williams campaign.”
Since mid-May, the Gianforte campaign has slightly outspent Williams, $3.1 million to $2.66 million.
His campaign started the period with about $1 million in the bank, while Williams had only about $100,000 in mid-May. Overall, Gianforte’s 2018 campaign has outraised Williams by $4.5 million to $3.3 million.
-Mike Dennison reporting for MTN News