Lewis and Zinke

John Lewis, left, and Ryan Zinke

HELENA – Democrat John Lewis and Republican Ryan Zinke are taking opposite approaches in their campaign fundraising for the U.S. House, with Lewis relying heavily on individual Montana donors, as Zinke depends more on out-of-state contributors.

Federal law requires all campaign donations of more than $200 to be itemized and disclosed to the Federal Election Commission.

Lewis reported that as of June 30, 71 percent of the money his campaign received came from Montanans, while 29 percent came from out-of-state contributors.

In contrast, Montana residents provided 28 percent of Zinke’s individual contributions, a Missoulian State Bureau analysis of campaign finance reports filed with the FEC showed. About 72 percent of Zinke’s individual donations came from out-of-state givers.

Lewis has gathered nearly $400,000 from Montanans who donated more than $200 to his campaign. From all individuals, he has received about $565,500. Lewis, who lives in Helena, was a top aide to former U.S. Sen. Max Baucus.

Meanwhile, Zinke has collected more than $290,000 from individual Montanans out of the slightly more than $1 million he has amassed from individual donors. He is a former state senator from Whitefish.

Zinke has raised nearly $190,000 from California donors, for 18 percent of his total individual donors. That was followed by about $164,500 from Texans, or 16 percent, and about $139,000 from Floridians, for 13 percent. He also got nearly $44,000 from New York individuals, for 4 percent of his total.

As for Lewis, he raised more than $46,500 from donors in Washington, D.C., for 8 percent of his individual money, with more than $40,000, or 7 percent, from Virginia contributors. Next were $12,250, or 2 percent from New Yorkers, followed by $11,000, or slightly less than 2 percent, from North Dakota residents.

The Libertarian candidate in the race, Mike Fellows of Missoula, has not reported any campaign finance activity with the FEC.


Lewis’ and Zinke’s campaigns had different takes on the disparities in their in-state vs. out-of-state fundraising.

“Lewis’ top priority is running a Montana-focused, solutions-oriented campaign to get Congress to play by the same rules as everyone else, while building a better future for all Montanans,” the Democrat’s spokeswoman, Kathy Weber, said Friday. “While he has the momentum to draw national support, Lewis is focused on earning the support and trust of Montanans, which is reflected in his fundraising priorities.”

Shelby DeMars, Zinke’s spokesman, had a different perspective: “Ryan is well known throughout the country for his outstanding military service and dedication to our country. We are proud of the overwhelming support Ryan has received from across the United States. ... Ryan has made it a point to emphasize his desire to restore American exceptionalism, and it’s a message that Americans across the country support.”

Counting all sources of money, Lewis has raised a total of $1.03 million through June 30 and spent $404,000 so far, to leave him with nearly $623,000 in cash on hand or money in the bank on June 30. He had no debts or loans, according to the FEC.

Zinke has raised about $1.6 million, but spent more than $1.5 million through June 30. That left him with just $82,300 left in bank then. Zinke reported debts of $97,300, including a $42,000 personal loan he made to the campaign.

In June, Zinke narrowly won a five-way primary in which he spent most of his campaign war chest. Lewis, who faced an opponent who chose not to raise money, stockpiled much of his money in the primary.

Regarding the cash-on-hand disparity, DeMars said, “The hard work and resources expended in the primary had a direct impact on the general election.”


As for money from political action committees, Lewis has raised about $296,000 from PACs to Zinke’s nearly $86,000.

The Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan, nonprofit Washington, D.C., group, categorized Lewis’ PAC donations this way: $148,000 from labor PACs, $112,100 from ideological PACs and $29,000 from business PACs.

Zinke has received nearly $44,000 from ideological PACs and more than $41,000 from business PACs, the center said.

Lewis has received nearly $15,000 from political party committees, while Zinke reported no party committee contributions.

The center’s analysis found that Fidelity National Finance employees and PACs topped the list of Zinke’s contributors at more than $103,000, while the Votesane PAC contributed the most to Lewis at nearly $17,500.

The center also classified donors by sector and found Zinke had raised more than $216,000 from the finance, insurance and real estate category to top his list. Labor topped Lewis’ donation by sector category with nearly $149,000.

Retirees gave heavily to both candidates. The center ranked “retired” as the top industry giving to each of them. Zinke collected more than $144,500 from retirees, while Lewis garnered more than $76,000.

Chuck Johnson is chief of the Lee Newspapers State Bureau in Helena. He can be reached by email at chuck.johnson@lee.net or by phone at (406) 447-4066 or (800) 525-4920.

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