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Montana Republicans select Gianforte as nominee for special elec - KXLH.com | Helena, Montana

Montana Republicans select Gianforte as nominee for special election

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Greg Gianforte Greg Gianforte
Montana Republicans select Gianforte as nominee for special election Montana Republicans select Gianforte as nominee for special election
Rob Quist Rob Quist
HELENA -

The Montana Republican Party has its candidate to replace Ryan Zinke in Congress — technology entrepreneur Greg Gianforte of Bozeman.

203 Republican delegates gathered Monday night at Helena’s Great Northern Hotel to choose a candidate for the upcoming special election to fill Montana’s U.S. House seat. It took just one ballot for them to select Gianforte, the frontrunner ahead of the convention.

“I am humbled by the trust you’ve placed in me,” said Gianforte. “Know that I will work every day, with everything I have, to make sure we retain this seat in Republican hands.”

Gianforte made clear that, if elected, he intends to be a strong supporter of President Donald Trump.

“This race is ground zero in the liberals’ attempts to stop the Trump Train, and I won’t allow that to happen,” he said.

Gianforte echoed Trump’s calls to “drain the swamp” in Washington by restricting lobbying and putting term limits on Congress. He also vowed to support stronger enforcement against illegal immigration, the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act and more state and local control over public lands.

Gianforte won a clear majority on the first ballot, receiving 150.5 votes of a possible 245. Each county’s representatives had their votes weighted to reflect the percentage of Republican votes they provided in the last election.

Because Gianforte won on the first ballot, there was no need to resort to a new rule delegates approved earlier in the convention. It would have required multiple ballots until a candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote.

Six other candidates competed for the Republican nomination: state Sen. Ed Buttrey of Great Falls, state Rep. Carl Glimm of Kila, former state senators Ken Miller of Laurel and Ed Walker of Billings, contracting company owner Dean Rehbein of Missoula and veterans’ advocate Sam Redfern of Missoula.

The Montana Republican Party did not release a full breakdown of the votes for the other candidates.

Gov. Steve Bullock called a special election last week, after Ryan Zinke resigned his seat in Congress to become U.S. Secretary of the Interior.

Gianforte’s campaign for Congress comes just months after he ran for governor last year, losing narrowly to Bullock.

“I learned a lot in the last year, and I’m stronger and wiser because of it,” Gianforte said.

Gianforte says the name recognition he built during last year’s campaign will help him in this race.

This time, Gianforte’s opponent is Democratic nominee Rob Quist, a well-known musician but first-time candidate. Gianforte had some strong words for his opponent.

“We don’t need to send Nancy Pelosi a court musician who wants to socialize medicine,” said Gianforte.

The Montana Libertarian Party will also field a candidate in the special election. They will choose their nominee at a convention in Helena on Saturday.

All three candidates have just 80 days left to get their message out, before the election on May 25.

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