Gianforte raises $252K for 2018 as Democrats line up to challenge

The Associated Press

BILLINGS (AP) — Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte raised $252,000 since July for next year’s election for Montana’s sole U.S. House seat, while two Democratic challengers took in about twice as much combined over the same period.

Gianforte, the race’s incumbent and a former technology entrepreneur from Bozeman, had $178,000 in the bank after subtracting his expenses for the quarter ending September 30, filings with the Federal Election Commission show.

Among Democrats, Billings attorney John Heenan raised $325,000, including a $100,000 loan of his own money. He had $257,000 in cash on hand at the end of the reporting period.

Grant Kier, a former land-trust director, raised $192,000 in just three weeks after announcing his candidacy September 12. The Missoula Democrat had $174,000 in cash on hand at the end of the period.

A third Democrat, state Rep. Tom Woods of Bozeman, announced last week and did not file a quarterly report.

The primary election is June 5.

Gianforte took office following a May 25 special election to replace Rep. Ryan Zinke, who stepped down to become Interior Secretary. More than $17 million poured into that race, including at least $1 million of Gianforte’s own money.

The Republican beat Democrat Rob Quist by 6 percentage points. But Democrats believe they have a strong chance to unseat him next fall, in part by highlighting Gianforte’s guilty plea on an assault charge for an attack on a reporter on the eve of the May election.