HELENA, Mont. — A Montana congressman handily won the GOP primary in his bid for a second term Tuesday as ballot-counting continued in the race for the state's newly created second seat in the U.S. House.
U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale fended off three Republican primary challengers, as former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was locked in a tighter race for the other seat.
“I am genuinely humbled by the overwhelming support of the people of Montana,” said Rosendale. “I have always viewed representing our state as one of the highest privileges, and I look forward to the opportunity to once again earn the votes of Montanans as we move forward to the General Election in November.”
“Our nation is facing tremendous challenges—and yet President Biden and the Democrat controlled Congress continue to make decisions that will worsen our economy and make it more difficult for everyday Montanans to make ends meet and put food on their tables,” continued Rosendale. “Since I took office I have been a steadfast opponent of President Biden’s irresponsible spending and radical agenda—and if I am fortunate enough to be elected again this November, I will continue to fight his agenda every step of the way. Montanans can count on me to continue working to improve care and services for our veterans, secure our Southern border, and continue to vote no on the irresponsible, out-of-control spending that is worsening inflation.”
Zinke, who served as a Cabinet member under then-President Donald Trump, is running for the seat to represent the western part of the state after Montana was granted a second representative due to population growth documented in the 2020 census.
It's technically an open seat, but the former Navy SEAL is widely considered the de facto incumbent since he twice won elections for the state’s then-only U.S. House seat before stepping down in 2017 to join the Trump administration as Interior secretary.
Zinke’s opponents have drawn attention to his troubled tenure at the Department of Interior, which was marked by multiple ethics investigations. On the GOP side, the field includes former state Sen. Al “Doc” Olszewski, who has tried to paint Zinke as a “liberal insider."
Meanwhile, three Democrats are vying for their party’s nomination: public health advocate Cora Neumann, Olympic rower and attorney Monica Tranel and former state Rep. Tom Winter.
In the state’s other district, Rosendale, who has Trump’s endorsement, will face the winner of that Democratic primary. The contenders include Billings councilmember Penny Ronning and state Sen. Mark Sweeney, who died unexpectedly after the ballots were printed.
If voters choose Sweeney, the Democratic Party will hold a nominating convention to select a replacement candidate for the general election.
By noon on Tuesday, nearly half the 473,000 people who had requested absentee ballots had returned them. The Secretary of State’s Office said lines at the polls were not long.
In one Supreme Court race, Montana voters chose from among three candidates — incumbent Ingrid Gustafson, James Brown, an attorney and member of the Public Service Commission; and District Court Judge Mike McMahon of Helena. The top two vote-getters advance to the general election.
In the other Supreme Court race on the ballot this year, incumbent Jim Rice and his challenger, Billings attorney Bill D'Alton, will both advance to the general election.