HELENA — The public is getting one final look at the financial picture in Montana’s two U.S. House races before the votes are counted in November. While both campaigns are heating up, much of the money is still focused on the western side of the state.
Congressional candidates were required to submit updated reports to the Federal Election Commission by Oct. 15, outlining their fundraising and spending for the third quarter of the year – July, August and September.
In the hotly contested western congressional district, both Republican candidate Ryan Zinke and Democratic candidate Monica Tranel showed by far their biggest fundraising numbers so far in the last quarter. Their spending rose to match.
Zinke brought in $1,718,962 over the three months, bringing his total fundraising for the election cycle to $5,503,527. That’s more than twice as much as any other House candidate in the state. Zinke’s campaign spent $2,097,973 during the quarter, with more than half of that going toward digital, TV and radio ads. They had $525,408 remaining on hand.
Tranel raised $1,118,135 last quarter – nearly half of the $2,372,596 she’s raised overall. She spent $982,552 during the period. Again, more than half of that was on advertising placements and media production. Her campaign had $352,543 still on hand.
In the eastern congressional district, the spending remains much lower. Independent candidate Gary Buchanan reported raising the most money during the third quarter. He brought in $334,656, bringing his overall total since joining the race to $461,780. Incumbent Republican Rep. Matt Rosendale raised just under $298,940, for a total of $2,040,344 during the campaign. Democratic candidate Penny Ronning brought in $71,193, for an overall total of $134,774.
Rosendale spent more than Buchanan in the last three months –$225,791 to $159,931 – and his campaign account maintained significantly more cash on hand – $1,136,865 to Buchanan’s $243,687. Ronning’s campaign spent $55,274 and had $26,458 still available.
There are two Libertarian candidates running in these races. Sam Rankin, in the eastern district, brought in $5,510 last quarter. For the first time during this campaign, he reported raising outside funding – having previously spent more than $20,000 of his own money. In the western district, John Lamb has not filed with the FEC and has told MTN he’s not raising outside money.