HELENA — Two Republicans running for Montana’s two new congressional seats in 2022 are crushing it on fundraising so far – but they’re getting a majority of their money from outside the state.
Both Rep. Matt Rosendale and former Congressman Ryan Zinke are tapping into national fundraising networks, helping each of them raise more than $700,000 so far this year and easily outstrip their opponents.
In contrast, Zinke’s GOP primary challenger, former state Sen. Al Olszewski, has culled most of his $300,000 in campaign funds from Montana – at least 78%, and likely more.
Olszewski and Zinke are running for Montana’s new, open congressional seat, while Rosendale is expected to run for re-election in the other district. The boundaries of each district will be drawn within the next week or so.
Among the three Democratic candidates running for the open seat, public-health expert Cora Neumann of Bozeman is the fundraising leader so far – but she, too, has raised a substantial portion of her $466,000 in campaign funds from outside Montana. At least 27%, or $125,000, is from California, where she formerly lived and worked.
Missoula attorney Monica Tranel has raised more money from Montanans than any other Democratic candidate: at least $143,000, or 60% of her $241,000 total.
The third Democrat, state Rep. Laurie Bishop of Livingston, reported raising $119,000 through September – and at least $59,000, or 50%, from Montanans.
Montana State University political scientist David Parker told MTN News that Zinke’s and Rosendale’s fundraising success so far is a product of their national prominence.
Zinke was Donald Trump’s U.S. Interior secretary for two years and Rosendale has been appearing occasionally on conservative national broadcast networks, aligning himself with far-right members of the House, Parker noted.
Parker also said while Montanans often say they resent the influence of outside money in state races, it’s not clear that money makes a difference in how people vote.
Here’s a closer look at the breakdown on the sources of funds for the declared U.S. House candidates:
Zinke: This year, Zinke has raised $794,000 – but only $180,000, or 23%, came from donors identified as Montanans. He took in about the same amount from donors from Texas, California and Florida.
However, it’s likely more than $180,000 of his money came from Montanans, for he also had an additional $163,000 in “non-itemized” donations from individuals, who gave less than $200. These donors are not identified by name or address, and some of them are certainly from Montana. Zinke had donors from 42 states and Washington, D.C.
Zinke also took in nearly $100,000 from political-action committees, or PACs – about 12.5% of his total.
Olszewski: The orthopedic surgeon from Kalispell raised $300,000 through September, including $233,000 from Montanans, $28,500 from non-itemized donors and $10,000 from himself. Olszewski said he estimates that 90% of his donors are from Montanans.
Rosendale: The first-term Republican congressman has raised $759,000 this year and ended September with $702,000 in his campaign account, thanks in part to some leftover funds from his 2020 campaign.
Only $191,000, or 25% of his money, came from donors identified as Montanans – although he had an additional $89,000 in non-itemized donations.
At least a third of his money came from donors in Florida, Texas and California. He had donors from 38 states.
Jack Ballard: Rosendale’s Democratic opponent, an outdoor writer from Red Lodge, raised only $22,000 through the end of September. About one-third of that money came from Montanans.
Neumann: The Bozeman Democrat, who briefly ran for the U.S. Senate in 2020 before withdrawing, reported raising at least $118,000 from Montanans – just one-fourth of her total. She also had another $78,000 in non-itemized donations, which include some money from Montana.
Yet the majority of her funds came from out-of-state donors, including $44,000 from New Yorkers and $18,500 from Washington state.
Tranel: About 85% of her money from identified donors -- $143,000 -- came from Montanans. She said she had more identified individual donors from Montana than any candidate in the open-district race, Republican or Democrat. Tranel also had another $74,000 from non-itemized donors.
Bishop: Nearly 80% of her money from identified donors, or $59,000, is from Montanans, and she had another $43,000 from non-itemized donors.