With a little over a week before the Democratic U.S. House primary, candidate Grant Kier had the most cash on hand in the run-up to the vote. Kier also raised the most, not including the candidate's own contributions, in the last regular campaign finance report before the June 5 vote.
Candidates in the U.S. House made their last pre-primary regular finance report earlier this month. Additional reports for contributions of $1,000 or more also are required within 48 hours of receiving the contribution between now and the election.
The candidates are Grant Kier of Missoula, who ran a public land trust; Billings attorney John Heenan; former state lawmaker Kathleen Williams of Bozeman; and Bozeman attorneys Jared Pettinato and John Meyer. They are vying to unseat Republican Greg Gianforte, who took the seat in a special election last year.
Going into the last days before the primary, the final regular report showed Keir with $168,169 left in the bank, Heenan with $92,769 and Williams with $90,033. Pettinato reported $6,902 cash on hand and Meyer has not raised enough to make reports to the Federal Elections Commission.
Heenan has far outspent the other two candidates who've raised significant money in the race. Over the campaign, Heenan has spent $875,794. That's $271,475 more than Kier's $604,319 over the election. Williams has spent $196,117.
Kier reported raising $105,384 between the start of April and mid-May. That brings Kier’s fundraising for the election to $772,489. Last week, Kier also reported $7,200 in contributions that came in after the close of the regular filing period.
Heenan brought in $151,515 during April and the first half of May, including a $100,000 loan from the candidate. Heenan has loaned himself $350,000 over the campaign. He reported one $1,500 contribution after the regular reporting period closed.
Jake Brown, Kier's campaign manager, said he's excited by the most recent reports.
“Doubling (Kier's) fundraising is a game-changer for us in the last couple of weeks,” Brown said. “There are so many undecided voters out there and it’s going to take a lot of resources.”
Brown said some estimates the campaign looks at show there’s still a significant amount of Democratic primary voters who haven’t cast ballots, so efforts in the next week or so could have a big impact on the race. Kier’s campaign just placed the first part of its last ad buy.
“We’re feeling pretty good," Brown said. "It’s also a turnout game, so we’ll be having volunteers go door to door.”
Heenan said he feels great going into the primary.
“I think it’s ours to lose and we’re working really hard. We’re not letting our foot off the gas,” Heenan said. “We’re taking nothing for granted and every vote counts.”
Heenan said loans to his campaign have been necessary because he's not accepting money from corporate political action committees. (Nor has Kier.)
“From the beginning I’ve committed to running a different kind of race, and it’s a race based on travel in the state and talking to regular people, not just wanting the traditional model of being holed up and calling wealthy donors,” Heenan said.
“What’s important to me is obviously you need enough money to get your message out, but I've been proud of the fact that from the beginning I haven’t taken corporate PAC money, I haven’t taken corporate lobbying money. I could raise hundreds of thousands of dollars if I would just take money from tobacco lobbyists, folks like that, and I just said no."
Williams took in $68,526 during the month of April and first part of May, bringing her total to $286,210 for the election. Williams received $9,000 from political action committees, including the Population Connection Action Fund, the United Transportation Union and Caesars Entertainment Corporation.
Heenan and Kier have received money from nonprofit PACS, including $5,000 to Heenan from the American Association for Justice Political Action Committee, $1,000 to Kier from the Science, Energy and Environment Change PAC and $5,000 to Kier from the 314 Action Fund, made up of members of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics community.
“We’re feeling fantastic,” said Andrew Markoff, with Williams’ campaign.
Markoff said Williams has strong support and momentum going into the primary. “We’re seeing it on the ground,” he said.
Of the contribution from the Caesars Entertainment Corporation PAC, Markoff said the contribution is “just a contribution like any others of ours. There’s nothing specific about it.”
“We’ve excited about the really broad base of support behind Kathleen’s campaign,” Markoff said. “Kathleen’s just going to keep working harder than any other candidate.”
Pettinato and Meyer have raised less than $75,000.