(UPDATE, 9:09 pm) Kathleen Williams has cruised to a commanding lead and currently has 89% of the vote in the Democratic primary.
On the Republican side, Matt Rosendale has a decisive lead over Corey Stapleton, with 46% of the vote compared to Stapleton's 34%. The other four GOP candidates have each garnered less than 9% of the vote.
(1st Report) Montana voters are casting ballots to choose the Republican and Democratic nominees for Montana’s open seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, setting up the fall contest for an office Republicans have held for almost 24 years.
Kathleen Williams, a former state lawmaker from Bozeman, is competing against state Rep. Tom Winter of Missoula for the Democratic nomination.
Six Republicans are vying for their party’s nomination: State Auditor Matt Rosendale, Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, Helena farmer-rancher Joe Dooling, for state GOP Chair Debra Lamm of Livingston, youth counselor Mark McGinley of Dillon and electrician John Evankovich of Butte
National party groups already have placed the Montana House race on their priority lists, as a contest that’s likely to be close this fall and could go either way.
Green Party candidate John Gibney of Hamilton also is in the race this fall.
The seat is open because incumbent Greg Gianforte is running for governor.
Williams was the Democratic nominee for this office in the 2018 general election, losing to Gianforte 51 percent to 46 percent. She started her 2020 campaign in April last year and had raised more than $1.8 million through mid-May, more than any other candidate in the race.
Winter, a one-term state representative from Missoula, also got into the race more than a year ago.
Rosendale, state auditor since 2017, has raised nearly $1.5 million for his campaign, using a nationwide network he built up during his unsuccessful 2018 challenge to U.S. Sen. Jon Tester. Rosendale, from Glendive, was a state representative and senator before winning election to the auditor seat in 2016.
Stapleton has been secretary of state since 2016 and briefly ran for governor in 2020 before switching to the House race last year. He previously served as a state senator from Billings and ran for governor in 2012 and U.S. House in 2014.
Dooling and Lamm, both active in Republican Party circles on the local and state level, entered the race last year.
Evankovich was a surprise entry and ran a minimal campaign and McGinley also entered the race fairly late, in February of this year. Neither man has run for state office before.
Republicans have held Montana’s only U.S. House seat since 1997, usually winning by comfortable margins. Depending on the 2020 U.S. Census, Montana could gain an additional U.S. House district, which would be up for election in 2022.