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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Republican Ryan Zinke wins Montana's western U.S. House seat

Republican Ryan Zinke speaks during a U.S. House candidate forum in Missoula, MT on August 8, 2022.
Freddy Monares
Republican Ryan Zinke speaks during a U.S. House candidate forum in Missoula, MT on August 8, 2022.

Republican Ryan Zinke has won election to Montana’s new western U.S. House seat, according to a race call from the Associated Press.

Zinke ran on his experience as a former U.S. Secretary of the Interior and Navy SEAL. With 93% of the votes counted, Zinke beat opponents Democrat Monica Tranel and Libertarian John Lamb. He’ll serve as one of two voices in Congress for Montana – representation the state hasn’t had in 30 years.

Late Wednesday night, Zinke issued a statement declaring victory in the race after a call from Decision Desk HQ, saying "it's time to fight for freedom and protect our way of life in Montana."

Zinke was the favorite in the race from the beginning, having previously won election to Congress and working for former President Donald Trump’s administration. His name recognition was paired with a $5.5 million fundraising haul, which is more than double his nearest opponent, Tranel.

Zinke’s campaign was plagued by the 18 ethics investigations into his tenure at the U.S. Department of Interior. The agency’s inspector general concluded that he lied to investigators and used the office to advance a project of personal interest.

Tranel often pointed to those investigations throughout her campaign as proof that Zinke is untrustworthy.

Tranel spoke outside of the Mansfield Library on the UM campus Thursday morning and thanked her supporters.

"Thank you for everyone who did vote for me, who asked me to serve you. I shall do so. Not in the 118th U.S. Congress, but I will serve the people of Montana as I have my entire career. As your advocate, as your neighbor, as a forever champion of the Montana that I know, that I love and that I believe in, still."

Zinke says Montanans can trust him to represent them in Congress.

Updated: November 10, 2022 at 10:54 AM MST
Updated with a statement from Monica Tranel.
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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