Virtually unopposed, Montana governor has nearly $600K in the bank for re-election bid



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HELENA, Montana — Gov. Steve Bullock now has $596,000 in the bank for his re-election bid, sitting on half a million dollars more than any other candidate for public office in Montana despite raising considerably less money this spring than he did in winter.

Financial reports filed Monday show the Democratic incumbent brought in nearly $180,000 from 900 people and 10 political action committees from April through June. It's about $40,000 less than he raised in the first quarter, but twice as much as he collected in the spring of 2011.

"The broad base of support reflects the fact that Montanans know he is doing a great job running our state," Melanie Brock, Bullock's re-election finance director, said in a statement.

Bullock is running virtually unopposed at this stage in the 2016 election cycle. He's been campaigning for re-election since August of 2013.

Republican Mark Perea, Libertarian Ron Vandevender and Independent Christopher Zarcone have filed paperwork to run for governor, but none has raised any money.

Bozeman technology entrepreneur Greg Gianforte is still considering whether to run against Bullock, spokesman Mitch Staley said early Monday evening.

Records show that Bullock's war chest totaled $90,000 more on July 1 than his predecessor, Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer, had at the same point in his 2008 re-election.

Bullock's campaign contributed $1,000 this spring to the re-election of Kentucky's Democratic Gov. Jack Conway. He also spent $3,000 on a fundraising consultant and more than $10,000 on printing.

Over the past three months, cash also flowed to candidates for other offices that will appear on 2016 ballots statewide.

Democrat Jesse Laslovich raised nearly $102,300 this spring for his campaign to replace outgoing Democratic State Auditor Monica Lindeen. In a news release, Laslovich called it "a number that has not been reached by any candidate for State Auditor since current campaign financial contributions limits were established in the 1990s."

Laslovich said Dave Hunter, a Democratic operative, provided that information. Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl said his office has no data to immediately support or deny the claim and had not been contacted by Laslovich's campaign about fundraising records.

Republican candidate for state auditor, Champ Edmunds, raised $2,655. Both auditor candidates announced in early April.

Lindeen raised about $12,000 this spring in her bid for secretary of state.

Reports also indicate that law professor Kristen Juras and district court judge Dirk Sandefur have collectively raised more than $75,000 in the second quarter. The two are vying for a vacant seat on the Montana Supreme Court bench.

Republican Attorney General Tim Fox raised $21,250 — about $1,000 more than he raised in the first quarter for his re-election.

Candidates for superintendent of public instruction revved up their fundraising by different means.

Democrat Melissa Romano, who began her campaign in February, raised $13,000 this quarter from individuals. Republican Elsie Arntzen, who announced her candidacy a week before the quarter's end, loaned her campaign $10,000.

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