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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Montana Gubernatorial Debates Scheduled For Saturday

Graphic: Montana Public Radio News, Politics

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Four of Montana's five gubernatorial candidates are scheduled to participate in a virtual debate on Saturday.

Each party will have a 45-minute debate discussing agricultural topics such as country-of-origin labeling, healthcare and COVID-19 as it relates to agriculture, said Walter Schwetizer, president of the Montana Farmers Union, which is sponsoring the debates.

They will be taped Saturday afternoon and aired at 7 p.m. on SWX channels. They will be re-aired Sunday at 4:30 p.m. on FOX channels with the exception of Billings, which will have a re-air on NBC at 10 a.m., said Meagan Lewis, news director at KFBB-TV in Great Falls.

Missoula businesswoman Whitney Williams and Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney will debate for the Democrats while Attorney General Tim Fox and state Sen. Al Olszewski of Kalispell will participate in the Republican debate. Republican U.S. Rep Greg Gianforte declined to participate, citing scheduling conflicts, Schweitzer said.

The debates come as candidates are reporting their March 16 through April 15 fundraising numbers, with Gianforte and Williams leading the way.

Gianforte raised $100,000, loaned himself another $500,000 and has $310,000 available for spending before the June 2 primary, Lee Newspapers of Montana reported.

Williams raised $127,000 in the past month, loaned herself $50,000 and has $139,000 left for primary spending while Cooney raised $62,000 from March 16 through April 15 and has $150,000 left for the primary.

Fox raised $36,000 in the past four weeks and has $34,000 left for the primary while state Olszewski raised just under $7,000 and has $42,000 remaining for the primary.

Overall, Gianforte's campaign has raised $2.5 million, including just over $1 million in loans; Fox has raised nearly $720,000 and Olszewski brought in $278,000. Williams has raised $848,500, including $55,000 in loans, while Cooney's campaign has raised over $763,000.

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