Montana’s 2024 Federal Candidates Report First-quarter Fundraising and Spending

Tester, Zinke, Downing lead in respective races for U.S. Senate and House districts

By Blair Miller and Nicole Girten, Daily Montanan
U.S. Capitol. Wikicommons

Monday marked the deadline for Montana’s candidates for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to report their fundraising and spending numbers for the first three months of 2024, and the reports show who could have a spending advantage seven weeks before the state’s primary election.

The U.S. Senate race continues to see the highest fundraising and spending figures, as is likely to be the case all year, but one candidate in the 2nd Congressional District race and two in the 1st Congressional District race each brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars in the first quarter of the year.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester raised $8 million in the first three months of 2024, which his campaign said was a record for the first quarter of an election year in Montana. That brings his total raised so far this cycle to $33.2 million. He spent $6.6 million during the period and started April with $12.6 million cash on hand.

The joint fundraising committee Tester Victory Fund, which also includes the Montana Democratic Party and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, brought in $1.5 million, spent $1.3 million, and ended the quarter with about $201,000 in cash.

U.S. Senator Jon Tester visits Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell on Feb. 23, 2022. Micah Drew | Flathead Beacon

Tim Sheehy, Tester’s likely Republican opponent in November, raised $3 million through his campaign committee, including another $500,000 loan he gave his campaign. He has now loaned himself $1.4 million of the $8.4 million in donations he’s received during the course of his campaign.

Sheehy spent about $2.4 million during the quarter and started April with about $1.9 million in cash on hand. Two joint fundraising committees aligned with Sheehy and the National Republican Senatorial Committee brought in about $670,000 in the quarter, spent about $564,000, and now have about $180,000 in cash on hand.

Sheehy’s lone Republican challenger, former Public Service Commissioner Brad Johnson, raised about $16,500, but most of that came from a $15,000 loan to his campaign. He also spent about $15,000 during the quarter and started April with about $3,100 in cash.

Eastern Congressional District

In the 2nd Congressional District race for Republican Rep. Matt Rosendale’s open seat,  three Republican candidates loaned their own campaigns enough to get above the $300,000 in cash mark to start April in what will be the most crowded primary in Montana.

State Auditor Troy Downing far outraised his opponents during the first quarter of 2024, bringing in $602,000, which includes a $200,000 loan to his campaign. During the course of the campaign, Downing has loaned his campaign $350,000 of the roughly $955,000 the campaign has raised.

Troy Downing speaks at the Flathead County Lincoln Reagan Brunch on April 15, 2018. Beacon file photo

He spent $570,000 during the first three months of the year and started April with about $325,000 in cash on hand.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen reported raising $546,000, but $450,000 of that came from a loan she gave her campaign. She has loaned her campaign $700,000 as of the end of April and brought in less than $100,000 in individual contributions.

Arntzen reported spending about $295,000 during the first quarter of 2024 and ended April with about $368,000 in cash on hand.

Elsie Arntzen, Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction, conducts a community meeting in Kalispell on Dec. 12, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Former Congressman Denny Rehberg also gave his campaign a $300,000 loan and brought in about $78,000 in other contributions. He reported spending only about $7,300 and started April with the lead among the three candidates in terms of cash, with $372,000 in the bank.

State Sen. Ken Bogner, R-Miles City, raised about $39,000, spent about $29,000 and reported just under $10,000 in cash on hand in the first quarter of the year. Attorney Joel Krautter, recently endorsed by the Montana Federation of Public Employees in the primary, raised about $28,000 and spent about $16,000. He ended the quarter with $22,000 in cash.

Former DEA agent Stacy Zinn raised about $22,000, spent about $2,000, and started April with about $22,000 in cash, according to her filing.

Ed Walker, the former state lawmaker who suspended his campaign earlier this month, raised about $10,000 and spent nearly $40,000 during the quarter. Walker’s campaign account still had $44,000 when he announced he was suspending it.

Republican candidates Ric Holden and Kyle Austin had not immediately reported their quarterly fundraising to the Federal Election Commission as of Tuesday morning.

In the three-person Democratic primary for the 2nd Congressional District seat, Broadus rancher Steve Held raised $46,000, including a $30,000 loan to his campaign. He reported spending just more than $7,000 in the quarter and started April with nearly $39,000 in cash.

Helena’s Kev Hamm raised about $21,000 and spent about the same, leaving him with just $3,100 to start April. And Ming Cabrera, of Billings, raised about $9,000, spent about $12,000, and ended the quarter with about $20,000 in cash on hand.

Western Congressional District

Ryan Zinke, the incumbent Republican running in Montana’s 1st congressional district, leads the pack, raising $1.4 million in the first quarter of 2024. Super PACs and joint fundraising committees tied to Zinke also raised more than $19 million. The former Secretary of the Interior spent about $1 million in the first quarter of the year. 

U.S. Rep Ryan Zinke answers questions from reporters during a tour of road and bridge construction areas around Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park on July 7, 2023. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Republican primary challenger Mary Todd loaned her campaign $71,000 this quarter, and raised only about $3,000 in individual contributions. Todd spent more than $40,000 and has about $34,000 in cash on hand, while Zinke has more than $2.3 million. 

Monica Tranel, the Democratic lawyer running for the seat, raised more than $742,000 this quarter and has about $1.3 million in cash on hand going into the next leg of the campaign. She spent about $280,000 since January.  

Monica Tranel attends an affordable housing roundtable with local community leaders and housing industry players at the Northwest Montana Association of Realtors in Evergreen on Nov. 8, 2023. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Libertarian candidates Dennis Hayes and Ernie Noble did not have FEC filings available as of Tuesday. 

Montana’s primary election is scheduled for June 4. Ballots for military and overseas voters are scheduled to go out on Friday, and absentee ballots will be made available for voters starting May 6.

This story originally appeared in the The Daily Montanan, which can be found online at dailymontanan.com.