Democratic candidate nearing $800,000

HELENA - Democrat Nancy Keenan continues to surpass Republican Dennis Rehberg in fund raising in the race for Montana's lone U.S. House seat, bringing in about $300,000 more than her opponent in contributions so far.

Keenan, 48, of Helena, state superintendent of public instruction, has raised a total of $798,349 overall, including $272,332 in collections between Jan. 1 and March 31. Keenan, who entered the race May 18, has $580,374 left to spend.

At the same time, Rehberg, 44, a Billings rancher and former lieutenant governor, has brought in $507,535 so far, collecting $182,080 in the last three months. Rehberg entered the race Sept. 29 and now has $345,404 in the bank.

Candidates were required to report their fund raising in campaign finance reports by Saturday to the Federal Election Commission and the state political practices commission.

Both Keenan and Rehberg are vying to succeed Rep. Rick Hill, R-Mont., who is stepping down due to complications from eye surgery. The only other candidate in the race is Libertarian James Tikalsky, a Laurel retail store employee, who hasn't yet filed a finance report.

Although Keenan has collected more money overall, Rehberg is leading in per-day collections. Rehberg has brought in an average of $2,563 per day since he formally kicked off his campaign in September, compared with Keenan who has collected an average $2,405 per day.

Neither candidate reported any debts.

Both candidates have said they expect to raise $1.5 million overall in this race, which the national parties have targeted as one of the key open seats for the narrowly divided Congress.

Keenan has received 73 percent of her money, or $584,565, from individuals and 26 percent of contributions from political action committees. Other funds include $50 from political party committees and $6,905 in interest earnings.

Rehberg has raised 49 percent of his collections, or $247,095, from individuals and $255,432, or 50 percent of his money, from PACs. Other funds include $2,175 from political party committees and $2,833 in interest earnings.

As for campaign spending, Keenan has shelled out slightly more so far with $217,975. Rehberg has spent a total of $162,131 on his campaign.

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