In the crowded 2020 race for Montana’s open U.S. House seat, Republican Matt Rosendale and Democrat Kathleen Williams are the clear fundraising leaders at more than $1 million each, though the end of last year.
But while both candidates have developed national fundraising networks, an MTN News analysis shows that Williams is getting far more of her money and donors from Montanans, than Rosendale.
Through the end of December, Williams, a former state lawmaker from Bozeman, reported receiving more than 2,000 donations from Montanans totaling $627,000 – about 54 percent of her $1.17 million total in campaign receipts.
Rosendale, Montana’s state auditor, reported only 106 donations from Montanans totaling $166,000, or just 15 percent of his $1.075 million in campaign receipts.
Those amounts don’t include money from some donors who give less than $200 and therefore aren’t identified – and at least some of those donors are from Montana.
But Williams leads Rosendale in this category of givers, too, reporting $297,000 from these “non-itemized” smaller donations, to Rosendale’s $102,000.
Williams and Rosendale are among eight candidates running for Montana’s sole U.S. House seat, which is open because incumbent Republican Greg Gianforte is running for governor.
Most of the other candidates trail well behind Williams and Rosendale when it comes to raising campaign funds.
The closest competitor is the only other Democrat in the race, state Rep. Tom Winter of Missoula, who raised $265,000 through the end of last year.
The second-highest Republican in terms of campaign funds is Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, who reported raising $155,000 through December. All of the other GOP hopefuls have raised less than $50,000 – and most of their money is coming from Montana.
Here’s a closer look at fundraising details for Williams, Rosendale and the other candidates:
· Williams’ and Rosendale’s campaigns have remarkably similar paths, when it comes to overall money and spending. They’ve each raised about $1.1 million and ended the latest finance period on Dec. 31 with nearly the same amounts: $821,000 for Rosendale and $811,000 for Williams.
Williams has spent about $56,000 more than Rosendale, but he also had $52,000 left over from his previous campaign when he started the House campaign. He ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 2018, losing to Democrat Jon Tester.
· Rosendale has donors from all 50 states, but about one-third of his money -- $368,000 – has come from three states: Texas, Florida and California.
Williams has donors from 32 states, but no state besides Montana has dominated her donor list. Behind Montana, her top donor source is her native California, whose residents have contributed just $50,000 to her campaign, or 4 percent of her total.
· Williams and Rosendale are both using national fundraising networks to direct donors to their campaign. Williams has received $455,000 in donations through ActBlue, an online donor aggregator that helps Democrats.
Rosendale has received $227,000 from donors routed to his campaign through the Club for Growth, a free-market group, and another $53,000 from the House Freedom Fund.
Winter, the other Democrat in the race, has donors from 30 states, but hasn’t raised a lot of money in Montana. He lists just $23,5000 from Montana donors, or 9 percent of his total – although it’s likely that some of his non-itemized, smaller donations ($54,000 total) are from Montana.
Winter, originally from Kansas City, has received at least $51,000 from Kansas and Missouri, or 19 percent of his total. Other big donor states for him include California ($40,500) and Oregon ($23,000). ActBlue also has aggregated $165,000 in donations for his campaign.
The remaining Republicans in the race – Stapleton, Helena farmer-rancher Joe Dooling, former state Republican Party chair Debra Lamm and Corvallis Schools Superintendent Tim Johnson – have raised most of their money from individual Montanans.
Dooling has raised $48,500, including $5,000 from his own pocket; Lamm raised $45,000 that includes $7,000 of her own money; Johnson reported raising just $5,200 from six donors. A sixth Republican, John Evankovich of Butte, just became a candidate last month and hasn’t had to file a finance report.