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Big bucks from out-of-state powering Bullock, Daines Senate campaigns

Montana race one of most-watched in the country
Big bucks from out-of-state powering Bullock, Daines Senate campaigns
Steve Bullock.jpeg
Steve Daines.jpeg
Posted at 8:23 AM, Apr 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-21 10:25:46-04

In the first three weeks of his U.S. Senate campaign, Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock raised $3.3 million – with one-fourth the money from California and New York, as well as donors from 49 states, an MTN News analysis shows.

Bullock also raised at least $333,000 from Montanans, or just 10% of his funds – although it’s likely his cache of smaller donations, whose source doesn’t have to be identified on campaign reports, includes more money from Montana.

His campaign told MTN News it already has 28,000 individual donors from across the country and Montana.

“Montanans are excited to see the governor continuing to fight for them in the Senate, where he will stand up to leaders in both parties to do what’s right for our state and for our country,” said his campaign manager, Megan Simpson.

Steve Bullock.jpeg
Democratic Montana Gov. Steve Bullock

MTN News also drilled down on the campaign donations to the person Bullock is trying to unseat: Republican U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, who’s running for re-election to a second term.

Daines raised $1.3 million during the first three months of this year and has raised nearly $8 million for his campaign since taking office in 2015.

Of that money, at least 16.5%, or $1.32 million, is from Montana donors. However, the biggest single source of Daines’ campaign war-chest is from political-action committees, or PACs, most of which represent business interests. About $2.6 million, or one-third of Daines’ funds, has come from PACs.

Steve Daines.jpeg
U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont.

Daines and Bullock have nominal opposition in the June 2 primary election, but both are expected to easily advance to the general election, where Montana’s U.S. Senate race will be one of the most watched and expensive contests in the nation.

Entering this month, Daines had $5.64 million remaining in his campaign account and Bullock had $3.2 million. The race will attract money from donors across the country – and already has.

Here’s a closer look at the sources of the money so far in each man’s campaign fund:

  • California residents gave Bullock at least $538,000 and New Yorkers gave him $327,000, for a total of $765,000 – 23% of his total. Bullock attended college in both states. Other states or regions outside of Montana that contributed substantially to the Bullock campaign include the Washington D.C.-Virginia-Maryland area ($298,000), Washington state ($126,000) and Massachusetts ($122,000).
  • While Daines also is getting money from donors spread across the country, his pots of cash from various states are relatively smaller. His California total is much less than Bullock’s, at $366,000, and is the highest from any single urban area or state.
  • When it comes to donations from individuals, it’s impossible to know precisely where all of them are from, because the campaigns are not required to list addresses for donors who give less than $200. Both campaigns have substantial amounts of money from this source: $909,000 for Daines and $814,000 for Bullock.

In the past, a good chunk of this money likely came from Montanans. But with the advent of national, electronic fundraising operations that can raise millions of dollars from small donations, this money could be from almost anywhere in the country.

  • So far, one of Daines’ big advantages in the fundraising race is his PAC money. His records list more than 1,200 donations from PACs totaling $2.6 million, most of them representing various business interests. A few of the PACs are based in Montana, but the vast majority are national groups, many of which are headquartered in Washington, D.C.
  • Bullock listed just 44 donations from PACs totaling $200,000. Many of the PACs giving to Bullock are what’s known as “leadership PACs,” which are affiliated with individual U.S. senators – in this case, Democratic senators.