HELENA — Republican Greg Gianforte turned in another impressive quarter of fundraising for his 2020 gubernatorial run this weekend, bringing his four-month total to $1.09 million – more than twice as much as any other rival in either party.
Gianforte, currently Montana’s sole U.S. House member, reported raising $507,000 for the past three months, adding to the $584,000 he raked in during the final four weeks of June.
The wealthy Bozeman businessman loaned the campaign $50,000 and reported spending about $22,000 of his own money on the effort, but the bulk of the money came from individual donors.
He ended September with $623,000 in his campaign account, or almost $400,000 more than his nearest competitor in the Republican primary,
So far, three Republicans and four Democrats are vying for Montana’s open gubernatorial chair in 2020. Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, can’t run for re-election because of term limits.
Republican Attorney General Tim Fox is the second-biggest total fundraiser, reporting $151,000 in donations during the past three months, pushing his total to $460,000, or less than half of Gianforte’s.
Democratic Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney, who entered the race July 3, also had a respectable fundraising effort during his first three months, taking in $250,000.
The other candidates trailed well behind in the money race, and Democrat Whitney Williams just got into the race last week, so her first fundraising report isn’t due until January.
Gianforte, 58, has been Montana’s congressman since May 2017, when he won a special election to succeed Rep. Ryan Zinke, who resigned to become U.S. Interior secretary. Gianforte won re-election as congressman last year but announced in June that he’ll run for governor next year.
Gianforte, who made millions building a successful software-development firm in Bozeman, ran for governor in 2016 and lost to Bullock.
His gubernatorial fundraising report has scores of donations from individual Montanans, many of them business owners. But he also had donations from people from about 20 other states.
Fox, 62, the attorney general since 2013, has raised about $4,000 from political-action committee, but the vast majority of his money is from individuals, primarily from Montana.
Cooney, 65, has been lieutenant governor since late 2015, and also served as a state senator and Montana’s secretary of state, the latter from 1989-2000. Almost all of his money for the governor’s race has come from individuals, many of them small donations and most from Montana.
However, he’s also using the Democratic online fundraising network ActBlue, which pulls in donors from around the country.
The other Republican in the race, state Sen. Al Olszewski of Kalispell, reported raising just $37,000 the past three months. His total money raised is now $179,000, although that includes $100,000 of his own money.
Democratic House Minority Leader Casey Schreiner of Great Falls, who entered the race in June, raised $37,500 in the third quarter, pushing his total for the campaign to $70,000.
Democrat Reilly Neill, a former state legislator from Livingston, has raised only $1,000 since entering the race, also in June, from five donors.