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Gianforte Outraises Democratic Challenger For 2024 Election

Incumbent Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte outraised Democratic challenger Ryan Busse by about $350,000 in Montana’s gubernatorial race so far, filings show. Gianforte raised a total of more than $1.2 million to Busse’s $897,000 total to date, according to the latest campaign finance reports submitted to the Commissioner of Political Practices on Wednesday, March 20.

Both gubernatorial candidates boasted their hauls in press statements this week, pointing to the donations as indicative of widespread support for their respective campaigns.

A wave of cash is expected to flow to the Treasure State this year, particularly in the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Democratic candidate Sen. Jon Tester and presumptive Republican candidate businessman Tim Sheehy.

Gianforte’s Republican primary opponent, Rep. Tanner Smith, R-Lakeside, has raised a total of $140,000. Both Busse’s Democratic primary opponent Jim Hunt and libertarian candidate Kaiser Leib raised $1,200 that they donated themselves to cover the Secretary of State filing fee.

Gianforte has more than $1.1 million dollars total cash on hand, to Busse’s $327,000. Busse has been campaigning since last fall, with finance reports showing he raised about $434,000 all together before Gianforte filed to run in January.

Gianforte’s campaign was confident in their fundraising efforts, saying money came from Montanans in each of the state’s 56 counties. Campaign manager Jake Eaton said in a statement Friday the campaign’s messaging resulted in the high return for the campaign early on.

“With Gov. Gianforte’s pro-family, pro-jobs, pro-business policies and his strong record of protecting our Montana way of life, Montanans are overwhelmingly supporting Gov. Gianforte’s reelection, providing him with record support in only 60 days,” Eaton said.

The Gianforte campaign pointed to a SurveyUSA poll showing the incumbent ahead of Busse by 22 percentage points. The Busse camp pointed to a recent Emerson poll showing Gianforte had a 37% approval rating in the state, with the same percentage disapproving and 25% neutral.

Gianforte gave a $35,000 in-kind donation to his campaign for travel to events in Washington, D.C., fundraisers around the state and to two Lincoln-Reagan dinners.

The incumbent candidate, who served as Montana’s sole Congressional representative for one two-year term starting in 2019, was one of the wealthiest members of Congress while in office.

Gianforte made his fortune founding, and later selling, software company RightNow Technologies headquartered in Bozeman. The governor listed Gallatin County as his resident county in the candidate finance filing.

Busse’s campaign said their filing marked a record haul for grassroots contributions for non-incumbent challengers for the same filing period in Montana gubernatorial campaign history. Busse’s team said their average donation was $96.

In a press statement, Busse’s campaign manager Aaron Murphy said they won’t ever be able to “selffund a campaign like unpopular billionaire Greg Gianforte does.”

“But we’ve got something Gianforte’s millions will never buy: a movement that includes Republicans, Independents and Democrats,” Busse said.

Gianforte’s camp said his support comes from what he’s delivered to the state during his tenure on issues like taxes, education, law enforcement and foster care.

The primary election is June 4 and the general election is Nov. 5.

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