Share this story...
Latest News

Montana vote pits tech millionaire against populist crooner

FILE - In this April 29, 2017, file photo, three candidates, from left, Republican Greg Gianforte, Democrat Rob Quist and Libertarian Mark Wicks vying to fill Montana's only congressional seat await the start of their only televised debate in Great Falls, Mont. Montana voters are heading to the polls Thursday, May 25, 2017, to decide a nationally watched congressional election amid uncertainty in Washington over President Donald Trump's agenda and his handling of the country's affairs. (AP Photo/Bobby Caina Calvan, file)

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The special election Thursday to fill Montana’s lone congressional seat features a Republican tech millionaire who portrays himself as a gun-loving, fly-fishing Montanan living the life in God’s country against a populist Democratic crooner making his first run for office.

Greg Gianforte and Rob Quist are vying to replace Republican Ryan Zinke, who’s now President Donald Trump’s interior secretary. Republicans have held the seat for two decades.

The conservative Gianforte backs Trump policies from increased border protection to repealing the Affordable Care Act; Quist is a popular Flathead Valley musician who depicts himself as a commoner.

___

GREG GIANFORTE

Gianforte, a 55-year-old Bozeman entrepreneur, lost a November bid to unseat Montana’s popular Democratic governor, Steve Bullock. He made his fortune when he sold his software company, RightNow Technologies, to Oracle in 2011 for $1.8 billion.

That wealth, Gianforte emphasized in his campaign, means he can’t be bought. He said that as an engineer he’d be a problem-solver in Washington. He took to calling Thursday’s election a referendum on the Trump administration and portrayed Quist as an “out of touch liberal” in a state that voted strongly for Trump.

___

ROB QUIST

Quist, a singer and guitarist for the Mission Mountain Wood Band, won the Democratic nomination after he was endorsed by former Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer. The 69-year-old prefers cowboy hats and big-buckled belts and tangled with Gianforte on topics from abortion to tax policy, gun rights to health care.

Quist ran into trouble when he acknowledged three liens for unpaid income taxes and a $10,000 loan default, among other financial problems.

___

MARK WICKS

Libertarian Mark Wicks, a cattle rancher and writer, pleaded with voters to consider him a sensible alternative to the two major party candidates.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.