HELENA — Democratic candidates in the crowded race for Montana’s new U.S. House seat began reporting their first fund-raising numbers Thursday, with Missoula attorney Monica Tranel leading the pack so far.
Tranel, one of three declared Democratic candidates, said she raised $244,000 during the initial three months of her campaign. State Rep. Laurie Bishop’s campaign said she raised about $117,000.
Cora Neumann, a health-policy analyst from Bozeman, is expected to release her fundraising numbers later Thursday.
The two Republican candidates – former state Sen. Al Olszewski of Kalispell and former U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke – said they’ll be releasing their third-quarter fundraising totals later.
Official reports on the candidates’ fundraising aren’t due at the Federal Election Commission until Oct. 15.
The race for Montana’s new congressional district – whose boundary has yet to be drawn – should be the most crowded and high-profile political contest in the state in 2022.
The state has no U.S. Senate contest next year, and the only statewide political races are two Supreme Court seats, which so far are uncontested.
In statements Thursday, Bishop and Tranel each thanked their supporters – and said they’re the best person to take on Zinke in the general election.
“It’s clear our supporters are fired up, and I’m incredibly grateful for the tremendous support from across Montana,” Tranel said. “I'll take on Ryan Zinke and his politics of corporate greed and represent all Montanans, not the special interests.”
“Montanans have invested in this campaign because they know that I’m the strongest candidate to take on Ryan Zinke,” Bishop said. “I am grateful and humbled by the support we have already received from every corner of the state, and I am looking forward to building on this momentum.”
Tranel’s campaign said she had 1,900 donors during the past three months, from 112 different Montana towns. Bishop said almost 80 percent of her donations came from Montanans.
Bishop, Neumann and Tranel are competing for the Democratic nomination for the new district.
Olszewski and Zinke are the only Republicans in the race.
In the race for Montana’s other congressional seat, Republican U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale is expected to run for re-election and is being challenged by Democrat Jack Ballard, an outdoor writer from Red Lodge.
Rosendale’s campaign said he won’t be releasing any fundraising numbers until he files his report Oct. 15. Ballard has yet to release any fundraising totals.