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A look at the money trail in Montana’s US Senate, House races

Posted at 5:04 PM, Oct 29, 2018

HELENA – As Montana’s U.S. Senate race remains in the national spotlight, the two major candidates have been raising money on a national scale as well, getting most of their money from beyond state borders.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester had raised a whopping $19.4 million for his campaign, compared to about $4.8 million for Republican challenger Matt Rosendale as of two weeks ago.

Each candidate is getting about three-fourths of his campaign cash from outside Montana, according to an analysis by MTN News.

Residents of California, New York, Florida, Texas and the Washington, D.C., area are among the biggest out-of-state sources of funds for Montana’s U.S. Senate candidates.

The top competitors for Montana’s U.S. House race – Republican Congressman Greg Gianforte and Democratic challenger Kathleen Williams — also are drawing from donors across the country.

But they’ve been getting a greater percentage of their funds from within the state, than the Senate candidates: About half, or a bit more.

Through Oct. 17, Gianforte had raised nearly $4.5 million, including $1 million of his own money. Williams registered almost $3.3 million by that date, for her campaign.

None of these numbers include spending by outside groups, which have poured at least an additional $30 million into the U.S. Senate race and nearly $400,000 into the U.S. House race.

Here’s a closer look at the details on the money sources for the U.S. Senate candidates’ campaigns:

  • Tester has raised almost $16 million from individuals, including at least $3.4 million from Montanans, or 17.5 percent of his total. He’s also raised another $3.35 million from “un-itemized” individuals, who give less than $200 each and whose names and addresses don’t have to be recorded publicly.
  • If half of this latter group’s money is from Montana, Tester is getting 26% of his total money from Montanans – about $5 million.
  • Tester has received one-fourth of his money from donors in three states or regions: New York, California and the Washington, D.C., area, which includes Maryland and Virginia. Residents of California are his biggest donor source outside Montana, at $1.9 million, or 10 percent of his total.
  • Rosendale has raised $4.2 million from individuals, including at least $945,000 from Montanans, or 20% of his total. He’s also raised $607,000 from un-itemized donors. If half of the un-itemized donor money is from Montana, Rosendale is getting 26% from Montanans – about $1.25 million.
  • Rosendale has received nearly one-fourth of his money from donors in three states: Texas, Florida and California. The largest chunk from an individual state is $448,000 from Texas or 9% of his total.
  • Tester has taken in $3.6 million from political action committees (PACs), for 18.5% of his total. Rosendale’s campaign income from PACs is $582,000, or 12% of his total.

Here’s a look at the details on money sources for the U.S. House candidates’ campaigns:

  • Gianforte has raised $3 million from individuals, including at least $2.1 million from Montanans, or 47% of his total. If half of his un-itemized donors are Montanans, his in-state total rises to about $2.3 million, or 51% of his total.
  • While he has donors from many states, no single state dominates the numbers. The most money from donors of any one state is $101,000 from California or slightly more than 2% of his total. Gianforte was born in California, grew up in Pennsylvania and moved to Montana in the mid-1990s — as did Williams.
  • Gianforte has loaned his campaign $1 million, or 22% of his total.
  • Williams has raised $3.1 million from individuals, including at least $1.2 million from Montanans, or 37% of her total.
  • Her total from individuals includes an additional $812,000 in “un-itemized” donors, whose names and addresses aren’t identified. The Williams campaign said it’s not able to say with precision how much of that money is from Montana. However, if half of that money is from Montana, her in-state total would be about 48%.
  • Williams has received at least $565,000 from her native California or 17% of her total. She also has received $155,000 from New Yorkers, or 5% of her total.
  • Gianforte has received $370,000 from PACs, or about 8% of his campaign funds. Williams has taken in only $136,000 from PACs or 4% of her total.

Both races also have Libertarian candidates on the ballot — Rick Breckenridge in the U.S. Senate and Elinor Swanson in the U.S. House. Swanson has reported raising nearly $12,800, including a loan from herself of $9,700; Breckenridge has not filed a report. Candidates don’t have to file if they’ve raised less than $5,000.

 -Mike Dennison reporting for MTN News