Montana Republicans dominate as Zinke, Rosendale prevail

Nov 10, 2022, 8:33 AM | Updated: 1:59 pm
Former Interior Secretary and Republican House candidate Ryan Zinke and his wife Lola leave The Rem...

Former Interior Secretary and Republican House candidate Ryan Zinke and his wife Lola leave The Remington Bar after eating dinner together in Whitefish, Mont., on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Tommy Martino)

(AP Photo/Tommy Martino)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Republicans tightened their control in Montana, picking up a newly created U.S. House seat in the midterm election as former Trump Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke narrowly captured the state’s western district and incumbent Matt Rosendale rolled over his opponents in the east.

Voters delivered two consolation prizes to Democrats with the rejection of an abortion-related referendum and the defeat of a Republican loyalist seeking election to Montana’s nonpartisan Supreme Court. The judicial contest drew a deluge of cash from conservative groups and trial lawyers.

But the election that concluded Tuesday left political power firmly in the GOP’s grasp: A potential supermajority at the state Legislature could enable the party to propose referenda to amend the Montana Constitution.

The Congressional race results extend a string of bitter Democratic losses in the Treasure State. The party has not won a House race since 1994, and more recently lost the governor’s mansion and a U.S. Senate seat. The sole Democrat remaining in statewide elected office is U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, who faces reelection in 2024.

Rosendale, Zinke and other Republicans followed the same playbook used in past elections, tying their opponents to national Democrats such as President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, while also tapping into voter anxiety over crime and the troubled economy.

Zinke, who served previously in the House from 2015 to 2017, overcame early stumbles including a razor-thin victory in the primary and revelations in recent months that he had lied to federal officials during ethics investigations into his tenure in former President Donald Trump’s Cabinet.

Democratic challenger Monica Tranel, an environmental and consumer rights attorney from Missoula, had tried to capitalize on the scandals by characterizing him as a “snake.”

Celebrating his victory on Thursday, Zinke remarked that “Montana saw through the lies,” with voters instead responding to his calls to curb energy costs, restrict abortions with some exceptions, reform the tax code and address housing shortages.

With the GOP poised to potentially take the majority in the House, Zinke said Republicans “have to deliver.”

“One key promise is we have to assert the power of the purse,” he said. “We’ve got to show we can control the budget. Right now the budget is out of control.”

Tranel continued to attack Zinke during an appearance Thursday before supporters at the University of Montana in which she also thanked those who voted for her.

“I ask you to hold your elected representatives accountable,” she said. “The election does not erase the corruption of Ryan Zinke. It does not erase the lies he told to cover up his corruption.”

Libertarian John Lamb, an anti-government extremist and organic farmer, finished third. Outside groups including one linked to Democrats, promoted Lamb’s candidacy in an attempt to peel votes away from Zinke.

Montana will have two House members in 2023 for the first time in 30 years due to its growing population.

Rosendale, a hard-right conservative who emphasized border security, easily defeated independent Gary Buchanan, who had support from some Democrats and former GOP Gov. Marc Racicot. Democrat Penny Ronning, a former Billings City Council member, finished third. Libertarian Sam Rankin was fourth in the heavily Republican district.

Republicans had a huge financial edge in both House races: Zinke raised and spent about $6 million — more than twice as much as Tranel — while Rosendale outspent his opponents and still had more than $1 million in cash as of Oct. 19, according to federal campaign filings.

In an abnormally politicized race for Supreme Court, Justice Ingrid Gustafson defeated attorney James Brown.

Elections of justices are supposed to be nonpartisan. However, the Gustafson race drew huge sums of cash as Republicans backed Brown and tried to push the court in a more conservative direction, while Democrats hoped to maintain its liberal majority to prevent the erosion of abortion rights in Montana. Brown was previously elected as a Republican to the state Public Service Commission.

Gustafson’s campaign was boosted by support from the political arm of the Montana Trial Lawyers Association, which spent more than $1.3 million on the race. The Republican State Leadership Committee reported spending nearly $700,000 on ads supporting Brown, who has never been a judge and said he was asked to run by Gov. Greg Gianforte.

“I am heartened to know that Montana voters are courageous and bold enough to stand up for our democracy and reject my opponent and his supporters’ inappropriate attempt to politicize our judiciary,” Gustafson said.

Brown said in a statement that his campaign was outspent by special interest groups and “liberal money” that flooded the state in the race’s final weeks.

The defeated abortion referendum has raised the prospect of criminal charges for health care providers unless they take “all medically appropriate and reasonable actions to preserve the life” of an infant born alive, including after an attempted abortion.

Health care workers and other opponents argued that the measure could rob parents of precious time with infants born with incurable medical issues if doctors are forced to attempt treatment.

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


Associated Press

Liability finding in Conley rape allegation to be appealed

CLEVELAND (AP) — An attorney is vowing an appeal for a woman found liable by a civil jury for malicious prosecution in a rape allegation she made against a former Ohio State football standout more than five years ago. The woman’s attorney, Patrick Thomas, said his client “deserves justice and patiently waited for her day […]
10 hours ago
Associated Press

Suspect arrested in fatal shooting at Houston home

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A 38-year-old man has been arrested in connection to a Thanksgiving day shooting at a Houston-area home that left two people dead and two wounded, according to the Houston Police Department. A man believed to be a former spouse of one of the victims entered the home through the back door […]
10 hours ago
FILE - A Zimbabwe National Parks official inspects some of the elephant tusks during a tour of ivor...
Associated Press

Wildlife conference boosts protection for sharks, turtles

PANAMA CITY (AP) — An international wildlife conference moved to enact some of the most significant protection for shark species targeted in the fin trade and scores of turtles, lizards and frogs whose numbers are being decimated by the pet trade. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, known […]
10 hours ago
Associated Press

NYPD officers, bystander save man who fell subway tracks

NEW YORK (AP) — Two New York City police officers and a bystander raced to save a man who fell on the tracks at a Manhattan subway station, plucking him out of the way of an oncoming train in a daring rescue captured by an officer’s body camera. The incident happened around 4 p.m. Thursday […]
10 hours ago
FILE - This Oct. 3, 2016, photo, provided by the Martin County Sheriff's Office, shows Austin Harro...
Associated Press

Judge to decide on Florida face-biter insanity plea

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A former college student who randomly killed a Florida couple in their garage six years ago and then chewed on one victim’s face finally goes on trial Monday, with a judge deciding whether he goes to prison for life or to a mental hospital. Austin Harrouff, 25, has pleaded not […]
10 hours ago
This image released by Neon shows Nan Goldin in 1978, an image used for the documentary "All the Be...
Associated Press

Review: A portrait of an artist in Venice-winning doc

Nan Goldin, the subject of Laura Poitras’ Venice Film Festival-winning documentary ” All the Beauty and the Bloodshed,” is a name you probably either know well or not at all. In the art world, she is unequivocally famous. Her photographs depicting downtown life in the late 1970s and ’80s and the vibrant, glamorous bohemians she […]
10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
Montana Republicans dominate as Zinke, Rosendale prevail