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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Trump endorses Ryan Zinke during a tele-rally

Rep. Ryan Zinke.

A Republican candidate for the U.S. House in Montana’s western district held a public call with former President Donald Trump Monday evening.

The former president spoke for about four minutes of the nine-minute call and told listeners that candidate Ryan Zinke has his full endorsement.

“With his help, and with everybody’s help, this country will be turned around. We’re going to get rid of crazy Nancy Pelosi’s political career once and for all,” Trump said.

Trump’s call with Zinke came days after ballots were sent to voters. Zinke faces four opponents in the race for the Republican Party nomination. Zinke holds a large fundraising advantage and has declined to attend debates with his primary opponents.

Zinke previously represented Montana in Congress, but left early when Trump appointed him Secretary of the Interior in 2017.

Zinke resigned from that position in 2019 amid investigations into ethics complaints against him. The federal agency published a report earlier this year saying Zinke failed to comply with ethics obligations while in charge, which Zinke has called a “political hit job.”

Trump lauded Zinke for his work to boost energy production by rolling back restrictions on oil, gas and coal development, for opening up federal lands to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and pushing for more funding for national parks.

While urging listeners to vote, Trump noted that absentee voting has already begun in Montana and repeated false claims that mail-in voting is not secure.

Courts and officials, including Trump’s Attorney General William Barr, concluded the 2020 election was safe and that claims of fraud are baseless. Zinke urged Montanans to vote and return their ballots.

During the tele-rally, Zinke talked about needing to address high gas and grocery prices. He says the federal government is spending too much money and needs to encourage more energy development.

“That is absolutely fixable, but we’re going to have to fix it together as Americans,” Zinke said.

Montana’s primary election is on June 7.

Shaylee covers state government and politics for Montana Public Radio. Please share tips, questions and concerns at 406-539-1677 or  
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