Fagg supporter

Russell Fagg hugs a supporter before his event at Billings Flying Service Inc. west of the airport on Saturday, Oct. 14.

BRONTE WITTPENN, Gazette staff

Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Russ Fagg is reporting a $615,000 war chest in his first finance filing.

The federal filing for the former Yellowstone County District Court judge indicates that Montanans make up 80 percent of his donors.

Candidates frequently highlight their in-state donations as proof of voter support, as compared to opponents with out-of-state money. Fagg is disclosing his finances before submitting them to the Federal Elections Commission as required by month’s end.

“Momentum is the right word,” Fagg said in describing his fundraising. “I had all the endorsements from Marc Racicot to Stan Stephens to Judy Martz, Rick Hill and Denny Rehberg. The second piece of this is all of a sudden I’ve got really good fundraising numbers, 80 percent from Montanans, which tells me Montanans are behind this candidacy.”

Racicot, Martz and Stephens are former Republican governors. Hill and Rehberg are former Republican U.S. Congressmen.

Preliminary reports for the candidate, who goes by “Judge Fagg,” show that $84,000 of his donations came between June and and Oct. 13, a time when Fagg was running an exploratory campaign. Fagg became an official candidate in mid-October after retiring from the bench.

Montana Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat, has outpaced all comers with $6.1 million in receipts reported last October. No other U.S. Senate candidate has disclosed money raised through the end of 2017. However, GOP challengers who filed quarterly reports in October were well into six figures.

Matt Rosendale, GOP candidate and Montana’s state auditor, reported $433,856 in contributions last fall with three months of fundraising left in the year.

Republican Troy Downing reported $492,234 dollars raised, including $350,000 the Big Sky resident loaned to himself.

Al Olszewski, a GOP candidate and Kalispell physician, reported $167,794 raised through last September.

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