Greg Gianforte

HELENA – Greg Gianforte, who’s vying for the Republican nomination to become Montana’s next U.S. representative, reports that he has already raised $825,000 for an upcoming special election campaign to fill the seat.

In a recent letter to supporters, Gianforte campaign manager Brock Lowrance said the money has come from 1,500 donors in the past few weeks.

“Supporters have made an investment in our campaign, because they know that Greg is the best candidate to take on the Democrat nominee and hold this seat for Republicans,” Lowrance wrote.

Gianforte, who co-founded a successful software-development company in Bozeman, is one of seven GOP candidates competing for the party’s nomination to succeed Montana’s only U.S. House member, Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke.

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Zinke is expected to be confirmed this week by the U.S. Senate as President Donald Trump’s Interior secretary. Once he is confirmed, Zinke will resign his U.S. House seat, setting up a special election later this spring to choose his successor.

Gov. Steve Bullock will set the election date, 85-to-100 days after he receives Zinke’s resignation.

The Republican, Democratic and Libertarian parties each will nominate candidates to run in the special election.

Gianforte has said he believes he’s locked up enough GOP delegates to win the party’s nomination at a convention to be held in early March.

Gianforte, 55, was the Republican nominee for governor last year, losing a close race to Bullock. Gianforte spent more than $6 million of his own money on the gubernatorial campaign.

Lowrance’s letter also said that a poll by a firm often hired by Republicans shows Gianforte leading potential Democratic nominees Amanda Curtis and Rob Quist by double digits – although the poll also showed Gianforte at less than 50 percent.

Six other Republicans have said they’re seeking their party’s nomination for the the race: State Sen. Ed Buttrey of Great Falls, state Rep. Carl Glimm of Kila, former state Sen. and state party chairman Ken Miller of Laurel, Missoula contractor Dean Rehbein, Drew Turiano of Helena, and former state Sen. Ed Walker of Billings.

At least eight Democrats have said they’ll compete for their party’s nomination, including Curtis, a state representative from Butte, state Rep. Kelly McCarthy of Billings and Quist, a musician and songwriter from Creston.

Democrats have tentatively scheduled their nominating convention this Sunday in Helena.