Montana 2020: Williams, Rosendale lead fundraising in U.S. House race

Kathleen Williams, Democratic candidate for U.S. House

(KPAX) Republican Matt Rosendale and Democrat Kathleen Williams have solidified their leads in fundraising for Montana’s open 2020 U.S. House contest, as they each posted impressive numbers on Tuesday.

Rosendale, the state auditor, reported raising nearly $452,000 during the three months ending Sept. 30, increasing his total from donors this year to about $650,000.

Williams, a former state legislator from Bozeman, raised $371,000 during the same period, increasing her total donations for the campaign to about $800,000.

Each candidate has more than $600,000 remaining in their campaign accounts.

Rosendale and Williams are two of eight candidates competing for Montana’s sole U.S. House seat, which is open next year because Republican incumbent Greg Gianforte is running for governor in 2020.

Matt Rosendale, Republican candidate for U.S. House

Rosendale and Williams also are both coming off relatively narrow losses in 2018 races for seats in Congress. Rosendale lost last year to U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., by 50 percent to 47 percent, and Williams lost to Gianforte in the House race, 51 percent to 46 percent.

The other candidates either hadn’t made their third-quarter fundraising report available by late Tuesday afternoon or raised less than $35,000 from donors during that period.

Among them are Republican Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, who raised $108,000 in June, and Democrat Tom Winter of Missoula, who raised $134,000 in the second quarter.

The other candidates are Republicans Joe Dooling, a farmer-rancher from Helena, Corvallis Superintendent of Schools Tim Johnson and former state GOP chair Debra Lamm; and Democrat Matt Rains, a rancher from Simms.

Rains reported raising $36,000 in the third quarter, including a $5,000 loan from himself, and Dooling said he raised about $15,000.

David Parker, a political science professor at Montana State University, said it appears that the 2020 House race will be an expensive one, with each nominee raising and spending in the $2 million to $3 million range.

“Most importantly for the Democratic side, it’s going to be relative resource-parity, which could be an advantage,” he said. “I’d be shocked if Rosendale and Williams aren’t the two candidates in the fall of 2020.”

He also said the national Democrats have listed Montana as a seat they might be able to turn in 2020. Republicans have held the statewide seat since 1997.