Bullock Outpaces Gianforte in Governor Campaign Fundraising

Bullock is galloping ahead of his opponent in the race for money

By BOBBY CAINA CALVAN, Associated Press
Gov. Steve Bullock jokes with a group during a tour of the Northwestern Agricultural Research Center in Creston on Sept. 10, 2015. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

HELENA — Gov. Steve Bullock again showed his fundraising prowess, collecting nearly $160,000 during the past month in his bid for re-election.

His GOP rival, Greg Gianforte, reported raising about $112,000 during the same period, according to campaign finance reports filed Friday with the state’s Commissioner of Political Practices. The reporting period covers from Feb. 26 thru March 27.

Bullock is galloping ahead of his opponent in the race for money, but the incumbent Democrat has long worried whether Gianforte will dip into his personal wealth to help finance his campaign.

“For him not to be banking money and for him to be spending as much as he’s raising … It’s very clear that he will be self-funding his campaign,” said Eric Hyers, Bullock’s campaign manager.

That remains to be seen, however.

Gianforte, who built a software business from his Bozeman home into a global enterprise, could certainly self-finance his bid for governor. He made millions of dollars when he sold his company, RightNow Technologies, to Oracle for $1.8 billion.

Bullock has more than $1.1 million stockpiled to compete against Gianforte, who reported having $363,000 in campaign cash left in the bank.

“It’s been pretty clear that Steve Bullock has been raising money,” said Aaron Flint, a spokesman for the Gianforte campaign.

Gianforte’s campaign crowed about its own fundraising numbers, even if it found itself behind.

Gianforte is showing “his impressive fundraising support as a challenger,” Flint said, “and I think it’s proof of the ground game that he’s been running from Ekalaka to Eureka.”

About this time four years ago, when Bullock was running for his first term as governor, he had just $522,000 to spend. To date, Bullock has raised more than $1.5 million in his campaign for a second term — on pace to exceed the $1.9 million he raised during his 2012 campaign.

Combined, nearly $5.2 million in contributions flowed into the gubernatorial campaign four years ago — the most for any gubernatorial election in state history. Bullock’s Republican opponent then, Richard Hill, raised nearly $2.1 million.

By some accounts, that record could be shattered this year as both campaigns continue to rake in money.

Both Bullock and Gianforte have opponents in their respective primaries, but neither rival raised any substantial amount.

Bill McChesney, who is running against Bullock, did not raise a single cent, according to his campaign report. Meanwhile, Terry Nelson, the other Republican candidate for governor, loaned himself $1,000.

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