HELENA — Republican candidate for governor Greg Gianforte again dipped into his own pockets to loan his campaign $50,000 on May 24.

That's according to the last campaign finance report before Tuesday's primary election.

Gianforte raised $37,395 without the loan between May 19-27.

Incumbent Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, raised $62,520 in the same period.

Gianforte had previously loaned his campaign $272,000; the total is now $322,000.

Gianforte reported spending $110,122 between May 19-27, with the biggest chunks of money spent on media airtime, almost $69,000, and a little more than $25,000 on a townhall telecast and a 15,000-piece mail campaign.

Bullock reported spending about $6,000, with $4,500 going to digital and fundraising consultants.

Gianforte's report includes wages for some staffers, while Bullock's does not. Bullock's report also showed he received $3,300 from political action committees, while Gianforte has said he will not accept money from PACs and called on Bullock to do the same. Bullock staffers have pointed out Gianforte, who sold his tech startup RightNow Technologies to Oracle in 2012 for $1.8 billion, has the ability to self-fund his campaign.

On paper, both men face challengers. Republican Terry Nelson reported raising $300 between May 19-27 and had $1,300 cash in the bank. Democrat Bill McChesney reported having no money in the bank, having raised none and spent none, in the same period. Having a primary opponent allows a candidate to raise more money.

Eric Hyers, Bullock's campaign manager, criticized Gianforte's use of personal loans to his campaign and portrayed Bullock's fundraising as a more grassroots effort. "We are incredibly thankful for the support and enthusiasm pouring in from Montanans all across the state," he said.

Gianforte staffer Aaron Flint dinged Bullock on money the governor has received from PACs.

"Greg and Lesley are receiving unprecedented support as outside challengers running for governor and lieutenant governor. It's clear Montanans want a proven job creator and leaders like Greg and Lesley, instead of a typical politician like Steve Bullock."

Late register

Polling places are open June 7 for those who have not voted absentee. A current ID is required to vote. People can find their polling place or check to see if they are registered online at https://app.mt.gov/voterinfo/.

People can register to vote at their county election office up to and including on Election Day, except for from noon until 5 p.m. the day before election day.

Push to the primary

Crisscrossing the state is the theme for both candidates for governor in the next week, with Bullock and Gianforte ending their swings in Helena on Monday.

Bullock has announced stops in Bozeman on Friday, Billings and Great Falls on Saturday, Butte on Sunday and Helena on Monday.

Gianforte has a bit more aggressive schedule, with stops in Billings, Livingston, Bozeman on Wednesday, Hamilton and Missoula on Thursday, Polson, Kalispell and Columbia Falls on Friday, Conrad, Valier and Havre on Saturday, Malta and Lewistown on Sunday and Big Sandy, Great Falls and Helena on Monday.

Both are traveling with their running mates, Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney for Bullock and Phillips County Commissioner Lesley Robinson for Gianforte.

Gianforte's pretrip press blitz repeated themes common in his campaign so far — Montana's wages and need to grow an economy focused on tech jobs. Earlier this year Gianforte went to 60 communities on what he called a Regulation Roundup tour, but this is his first swing with Robinson.

Bullock will open field offices during the stops on his tour, including one in Missoula and one in Kalispell.



Reporter covering statewide issues for The Billings Gazette.