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HomeUncategorizedTester, Sheey Amass Millions in Campaign Funds Ahead of Primary

Tester, Sheey Amass Millions in Campaign Funds Ahead of Primary

With Montana’s primary election just over a week away, we are getting a comprehensive look at the financial landscape of the state’s hotly contested U.S. Senate race. The latest reports, mandated by the Federal Election Commission (FEC), cover campaign finance activities from April 1 to May 15, as candidates are required to file 12 days before their state’s primary election.

Democratic U.S. Senator Jon Tester reported raising an additional $4.1 million during this period. Despite spending just under $5 million, his campaign retains a robust $11.8 million in cash on hand. Since the beginning of 2023, Tester has accumulated a total of $32.8 million in contributions and expended $23.9 million, demonstrating significant financial support and substantial campaign expenditures.

On the Republican front, Tim Sheehy, a businessman and Navy veteran from Gallatin County, reported raising $2.1 million in the pre-primary period, including $600,000 of his own money loaned to the campaign. Sheehy’s campaign spent $1.8 million, leaving him with $2.2 million in cash on hand. Since launching his campaign last June, Sheehy has raised a total of $10.5 million, with over $2 million coming from his personal funds, and has spent $8.3 million. Sheehy’s substantial fundraising and spending have set him apart from his GOP rivals, sparking criticism over the role of money in the election.

Brad Johnson, a former Montana Secretary of State and Public Service Commission member, reported raising and spending just over $4,000 during the pre-primary period. Johnson’s campaign has raised a total of just under $43,000, reflecting a more modest financial approach compared to Sheehy. Charles Walking Child, a 2022 U.S. House candidate from Helena, has committed to spending less than $5,000 during the campaign, avoiding the threshold that necessitates detailed financial reporting. Michael Hummert of Helena, challenging Tester in the Democratic primary, has similarly kept his expenditures below this reporting threshold.

The candidates’ direct spending is only part of the financial story. Independent groups have made significant expenditures in the Montana Senate race. As of Monday, the FEC reported over $6 million in independent expenditures supporting Sheehy, including $5 million from the group More Jobs, Less Government, and nearly $1 million from Americans for Prosperity Action (AFP Action) and its affiliated organizations. In contrast, independent spending against Sheehy has amounted to more than $212,000, excluding an estimated $4.5 million from the Last Best Place PAC.

Senator Tester has also been a target of substantial independent spending. AFP Action has spent $570,000 opposing him, while supportive groups like the American Police and Troopers Coalition PAC have spent over $28,000 in his favor. More Jobs, Less Government reported another $1.5 million in advertisements against Tester earlier this month. Additionally, this group spent just over $22,000 on direct mail opposing Robert Barb, one of the candidates in the Green Party’s Senate primary.

In summary, the financial dynamics of Montana’s U.S. Senate race highlight the intense fundraising and spending efforts by both candidates and independent groups. With millions of dollars in contributions and expenditures, the race is a clear indicator of the high stakes and significant interest surrounding this election.

By: Montana Newsroom staff

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