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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Ryan Zinke Rides GOP Momentum To Election In U.S. House Race

Jessie Mazur

  In a battle of two first-time Congressional candidates, Republican Ryan Zinke scored a solid victory over Democrat John Lewis Tuesday night.

Like many other Republicans nationwide, Zinke ran a campaign highly critical of President Barack Obama, pledging to end the president’s health care law and criticizing American policy against Islamic extremists.

The Associated Press called the race with 26 percent of the precincts reporting.

Zinke, a retired Navy Seal, stressed his military background as a central part of his campaign.

“In the Seals we’re taught to lead from the front and never quit until the job is done,” he said in one ad before the primary. “Isn’t that what we need in Washington right now?”

The Republican bested Democrat John Lewis, a senior staffer to long-time U.S. Sen. Max Baucus.

Lewis ran a campaign that stressed his centrist positions and work ethic.

“When I see Congress going from crisis to crisis, which is what led to the government shutdown last fall, it concerns me,” Lewis said. “I don’t know what it’s going to take to change that, but I am somebody that’s willing to work with both sides. I’m solution-oriented and I put myself out there.”

Kathy Webber, Lewis spokesperson, said the Democrat had run the campaign he wanted.

"John is the kind of person who has a fire in his belly to serve," she said Tuesday night. "John made a rule at the beginning of this campaign: We don't worry about the polls. We don't worry about the pundits."

It is the second time that Zinke survived a challenging race. In the primary, Zinke was criticized as being too moderate and too willing to change his positions on issues like abortion and gun control. In the general election he faced criticism for his alleged collaboration with Super Pac, Special Operations for America.

Zinke said he has a plan to rebuild America while in Congress and it centers on energy independence and building trust in government in the hopes of spurring economic growth.

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