Democrats have out-raised their Republican opponents in three of the four so-called Tier B statewide races and have eclipsed the GOP candidates in all those races if self-financing isn't factored in.
A similar scenario played out in 2016, the last time the offices were on the ballot. That year's September's finance reports showed Democrats raised more than Republicans for three positions — secretary of state, state auditor and superintendent of public instruction.
But Democrats lost all of those races, as well as the attorney general race, in which the incumbent Republican faced minimal challenge.
The race for governor this year looks much different than the other statewide offices, however, as Republican U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte has raised $3.8 million to Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney's $1.09 million. Though Gianforte has loaned his campaign $1.55 million over the course of this election, he still has out-raised Cooney when not including the self-financing.
In this year's race for attorney general, Democrat Raph Graybill is facing off against Republican Austin Knudsen. Graybill is the chief legal counsel for Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock and Knudsen is the Roosevelt County district attorney and former speaker of the state House.
The office is open as Republican Attorney General Tim Fox is termed out from running again.
Graybill out-raised Knudsen over the last month, bringing in just shy of $58,400 to Knudsen’s roughly $27,900 over the period from May 15-June 15. Over the election, the Democrat has brought in nearly double the Republican, with Graybill at $371,900 and Knudsen at $193,300.
On the most recent finance reports, Graybill benefited from $9,250 from the Montana Democratic Party given after the primary election. Previously he has received money from the political action committee for the state’s largest public employees union, the Montana Federation of Public Employees, as well as a Great Falls PAC representing firefighters.
Knudsen has reported getting money from the PAC for tobacco giant Reynolds American and the PACs attached to the Montana Beer and Wine Distributors Association and Charter Communications.
On June 2, Knudsen came out of his primary race against Chief Deputy Attorney General Jon Bennion with 60% of the vote, while Graybill defeated his opponent, Missoula state lawmaker and attorney Kimberly Dudik, with 57%.
The report said Bennion was “seen as a stronger general election candidate" and said Graybill would try to pick off Bennion supporters. The report also said the U.S. Senate bid from Graybill’s boss, Bullock, may rally Democratic voters, though Knudsen’s vigorous backing of Trump and Gianforte could “energize the GOP base.”
Graybill reported about $94,500 cash in the bank to Knudsen’s nearly $60,300.
Secretary of state
Democratic secretary of state candidate and state Sen. Bryce Bennett did not have an opponent in the primary. He raised $22,640 over the last month and has brought in $197,700 over the election, according to filings with the state Commissioner of Political Practices.
That outpaces his opponent, Republican Deputy Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen. She brought in $15,160 over the last month, which includes a $10,000 loan on May 26. She’s raised more than $163,100 over the election and reported more than $92,000 in loans to her campaign. Jacobsen emerged from a five-way Republican primary with 29% of the vote.
Bennett was also up when it came to cash in the bank, reporting $143,140 to Jacobsen’s $23,000.
In the last month, Bennett received $900 from the Missoula County Democrats. Previously he’s gotten money from the political action committee for the Montana Federation of Public Employees and a firefighters PAC in Missoula. Jacobsen reported no money from PACs or political committees.
The office is open this year as Republican Secretary of State Corey Stapleton did not seek reelection and instead ran in the U.S. House primary, where he came in second.
Republican candidate Troy Downing, a Bozeman businessman who ran for U.S. Senate in 2016, reported raising $64,850 in the last month, though that included $50,000 in loans to himself. Downing has raised about $196,400 over the election, including $118,000 from the candidate. He'd be at about $78,300 without the loans.
Democratic State Rep. Shane Morigeau, of Missoula, reported raising $35,150 over the last month, and has brought in $150,600 over the election. He also reported about $13,500 in self-financing.
On the last finance report, Downing reported $22,400 in cash on hand, compared to Morigeau at $21,500.
Morigeau has reported getting money from the PAC associated with the drug-maker Pfizer and the Montana Federation of Public Employees PAC. Downing has not received money from PACs.
Morigeau came out with 61% of the vote over his primary opponent, Helena resident Mike Winsor, while Downing got 50% of the vote in a three-way Republican primary that included Nelly Nicol of Billings and Scott Tuxbury of Missoula.
The office is open as Republican state Auditor Matt Rosendale is not seeking reelection and is running for U.S. House.
Office of Public Instruction
Neither Republican incumbent Elsie Artnzen nor Helena Democrat and former teacher Melissa Romano were challenged in their primaries. Their race is a rematch of the 2016 election, which Arntzen won with 51% of the vote in a year when Romano out-raised her.
Romano raised $33,220 over the last month, and $183,000 for the election so far.
Arntzen reported raising $39,850 over the last month and has raised $93,200 over the election, including $35,000 she’s loaned herself.
Romano had $152,820 in the bank when she filed her last finance report, while Arntzen reported $21,900.
Arntzen reported receiving money from the Charter Communications PAC. Romano reported receiving money from the Montana Federation of Public Employees PAC, as well as the Bozeman, Great Falls, Kalispell and Helena education associations.
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