U.S. House candidate Kathleen Williams had more money in the bank than incumbent Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., in the latest filing period, though that will likely change.
Williams, who raised more than $2 million in more than three months, entered October with $1.2 million on hand. Gianforte had $397,000.
Williams, a Democrat, has been raising money at good clip since the final weeks of Montana’s spring primary in which she defeated five other opponents. Her third-quarter donations outperformed previous Democratic candidates for Montana’s at-large House district.
“It’s the continued momentum before those final 25 days after the primary in the second quarter,” said Neal Ullman, Williams’ communications director. “We didn’t see any change from that.”
For the election season to date, Gianforte has raised $3.2 million to Williams’ $2.8 million. That infusion of third-quarter cash has allowed Williams to pick up staff and draw a salary from the campaign, $6,889. Williams hasn’t worked a non-campaign job since the 2018 midterm election cycle started.
The wildcard is how much of his own money Gianforte might spend on the race in the final month. With personal wealth exceeding $600 million, Gianforte is has spent millions of his own money on previous campaigns.
In 2016, the Republican spent more than $5 million of his own money in a losing challenge to incumbent Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock.
In 2017, Gianforte loaned his special election House campaign $1.5 million. Most importantly, $1.35 million of that loan came with fewer than 20 days to go.
Already, there are signs the incumbent’s third-quarter balance sheet for 2018 has gone stale. Gianforte has spent $400,000 on TV advertising in October, more than his reported cash on hand at September’s end.
Those Gianforte advertising expenditures come after a six-week period in which Williams, who had previously been in a TV ad drought, spent nearly $778,000 on ad buys and video production. For perspective, Williams spent $69,672 on media buys in the primary election.
The incumbent has been on air as well with $903,844 in TV and radio ad expenses in September.
Libertarian Elinor Swanson, of Billings, has raised $18,852 through the third quarter, including a $15,000 personal loan. She had $14,817.43 cash on hand.