Capitol building

The Montana State Capitol

Self-funding has played a significant role so far in the campaigns for statewide elected offices this cycle, with some candidates using the money to boost their fundraising hauls.

In the secretary of state race, four Republicans are running in the primary. This week marked the first finance report filed for current Deputy Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen.

Jacobsen reported bringing in more than $113,300 over the last three months of 2019, according to records filed with the state Commissioner of Political Practices. That total included a loan of more than $60,500 loan she made to the campaign.

Outgoing state Senate President Scott Sales, of Bozeman, brought in about $52,000 in the fourth quarter and has raised more than $114,000 since announcing as a candidate. Sales has loaned himself $26,000 in the last quarter.

Bowen Greenwood, who is clerk of the state Supreme Court, also filed his first report this week. Greenwood raised about $11,500 and left about $9,400 in the bank.

State Rep. Forrest Mandeville, of Columbus, reported raising $19,137 in the fourth quarter, and ended the year with just under $9,000 in the bank. Overall he's raised about $25,482, which includes a $15,000 loan from himself.

Sales was the candidate to benefit the most from contributions from political action groups, receiving money from the Montana Gas and Oil PAC; Altria Group Inc.'s PAC, which represents tobacco companies; Charter Communications' Montana PAC; Deloitte PAC, which represents auditing and consulting interests; Denbury Resources PAC, which represents the oil and natural gas company; and Montana Wood Products Association PAC.

On the Democratic side, state Sen. Bryce Bennett raised about $31,700 in the fourth quarter and has about $74,300 in the bank. Bennett has raised about $108,300 over the campaign.

The office is open, as Secretary of State Corey Stapleton is not seeking reelection and is instead running for U.S. House.

Attorney General

Two Democrats and two Republicans are running in the attorney general race, a seat that's open as Attorney General Tim Fox is termed out and is running for governor.

On the Republican side, Chief Deputy Attorney General Jon Bennion reported raising about $31,780 in the fourth quarter. He ended the year with $142,300 in the bank. Overall he's brought in about $168,000.

Bennion has received support from PACs including one associated with Burlington Northern Santa Fe; the Montana Chiropractor Association's BackPAC; Glaxosmithkline's PAC; the Montana Gas and Oil PAC; Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co.; Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, which is associated with technology, energy, infrastructure and finance issues; Charter Communications, Health Care Service Corp.; and Trinity Industries, which represents railroad interests.

Former state Speaker of the House Austin Knudsen raised about $26,000 in the fourth quarter and left about $95,800 in the bank. He's raised about $114,500 so far and has gotten PAC donations from the Montana Beer and Wine Distributors Association and Charter Communications.

Among the Democrats, Raph Graybill, Gov. Steve Bullock's chief legal counsel, reported bringing in about $31,200 in the fourth quarter, and has $152,000 in the bank. He’s raised more than $179,000 to date.

Outgoing state Rep. Kim Dudik, of Missoula, reported raising about $31,400 in the fourth quarter, and left $42,700 in the bank. Reports show she’s loaned her campaign $85,000. She's raised about $172,800 over the campaign, including the loan, and received a PAC contribution from Health Care Service Corporation Employees.

State Auditor

The Republican primary for the state auditor position, which is open as officeholder Matt Rosendale is running for U.S. House, is contested, with two candidates seeking the job.

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Troy Downing, a Big Sky businessman who ran for U.S. Senate in 2018 and came in third in a four-way primary, raised $21,400 in the fourth quarter and reported about $60,300 cash on hand. He’s loaned his campaign $60,000 and has raised about $85,300 overall.

Nelly Nicol, who lives in Billings and works at Victory Insurance Co., raised about $72,200 in her first report. She's lent the campaign about $58,800 and ended 2019 with $56,700 in the bank.

Outgoing state Rep. Shane Morigeau, of Missoula, reported raising about $12,100 over the last quarter. He is unopposed in the primary and has brought in about $52,800 to date.

Office of Public Instruction

Incumbent Republican Elsie Artnzen is seeking reelection and faces no primary challengers. She's reported raising about $23,100 and has loaned her campaign $10,000.

Democrat Melissa Romano is the only member of her party who has announced a bid for the seat. She ran in 2016 and lost to Arntzen. So far she's raised just shy of $40,000. Romano has received money from the Great Falls Education Association and the Helena Education Association.

Earlier this week, Montana Public Radio reported that the three candidates for the state Supreme Court — sitting Justice Laurie McKinnon, Helena attorney Michael Black, and Missoula attorney Mars Scott — have also relied heavily on self-financing their campaigns.

In McKinnon's case, most of her campaign money comes from a $3,200 loan. Black has lent himself $40,000, which represents just under two-thirds of his total haul; and Scott has relied on $7,500 in loans, which accounts for almost all his fundraising.

The numbers used in this story are from publicly available reports filed with the state Commissioner of Political Practices. Loan amounts do not include when candidates have covered costs such as those for travel.