Rosendale wins reelection in Montana US House race

Nov 8, 2022, 7:23 PM | Updated: Nov 9, 2022, 10:05 am
Former Interior Secretary and Republican House candidate Ryan Zinke mingles during an election nigh...

Former Interior Secretary and Republican House candidate Ryan Zinke mingles during an election night watch party in Whitefish, Mont., on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Tommy Martino)

(AP Photo/Tommy Martino)

              Former Interior Secretary and Republican House candidate Ryan Zinke mingles during an election night watch party in Whitefish, Mont., on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Tommy Martino)
            
              Election workers collect absentee ballots at the Missoula County Fairgrounds in Missoula, Mont., on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Tommy Martino)
            
              Sherry Kenmille fills out a ballot at the Elmo Clinic on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Elmo, Mont., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Tommy Martino)
            
              Voters fill out their ballots at the Flathead County Fairgrounds in Kalispell, Mont., on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Tommy Martino)
            
              Melvin L Quakenbush fills out his ballot at the Pablo Christian Church on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Pablo, Mont., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Tommy Martino)
            
              Troy Bloom fills out his ballot at the Cold Springs polling station in Missoula, Mont., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Tommy Martino)
            
              Voters fill out their ballots at the Flathead County Fairgrounds in Kalispell, Mont., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Tommy Martino)
            
              Election worker A.B. Tuttle mans a precinct station on Election Day at the Flathead County Fairgrounds in Kalispell, Mont., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Tommy Martino)
            
              A truck flying an American flag and displaying signs supporting former President Donald Trump drives near Kalispell, Mont., on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Tommy Martino)
            
              Voters fill out their ballots at the Flathead County Fairgrounds in Kalispell, Mont., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Tommy Martino)
            
              Sherry Kenmille leaves the Elmo Clinic on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Elmo, Mont., on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Tommy Martino)
            
              Former Interior Secretary and Republican House candidate Ryan Zinke mingles during an election night watch party in Whitefish, Mont., on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Tommy Martino)
            
              Western Montana U.S. House candidate Monica Tranel, middle,  greets supporters at the Union Club in Missoula, Mont., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. Tranel, a Democrat, was running against Republican and former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Libertarian John Lamb. (Ben Allan Smith/The Missoulian via AP)
            
              Former Interior Secretary and Republican House candidate Ryan Zinke mingles during an election night watch party in Whitefish, Mont., on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Tommy Martino)
            
              U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale meets with supporters during a Lewis and Clark Republican Women's Club luncheon in Helena, Mont., on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022. (Thom Bridge/Independent Record via AP)
            
              FILE - U.S. House candidate Independent Gary Buchanan is seen at a campaign event outside the Montana State Capitol, April 8, 2022, in Helena, Mont. Buchanan is seeking election to a U.S. House seat representing eastern Montana in the upcoming November election. (Thom Bridge/Independent Record via AP, File)
            
              FILE - Former Billings City Council member Penny Ronning, the Democratic candidate for Montana's eastern congressional district, speaks to supporters of abortion rights at a rally outside the Yellowstone County Courthouse, May 3, 2022, in Billings, Mont. (Larry Mayer/The Billings Gazette via AP, File)
            
              U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale meets with supporters during a Lewis and Clark Republican Women's Club luncheon in Helena, Mont., on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022. (Thom Bridge/Independent Record via AP)
            
              Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the republican candidate for Montana's western congressional district, speaks with supporters at a get out the vote event in Belgrade, Mont., on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (Thom Bridge/Independent Record via AP)
            
              Democratic U.S. House candidate Monica Tranel listens during a new conference about a potential increase in utility rates, in Butte, Mont., Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022. Tranel is a lawyer from Missoula facing Republican Ryan Zinke and Libertarian John Lamb in the race for a newly drawn House district in Western Montana. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)
            
              Libertarian U.S. House candidate John Lamb speaks during a debate against Democrat Monica Tranel, right, and Republican Ryan Zinke at Montana Technological University, in Butte, Mont., Thursday, Sept. 29. 2022. Lamb has toured the state with Tranel attending Democratic-sponsored debates. They've differed sharply on issues but united in criticizing Zinke. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)
            
              Democratic U.S. House candidate Monica Tranel speaks to Mark Thompson with Montana Resources at a copper mine operated by the company, in Butte, Mont., Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022. Democrats have not won a House race in the state since 1994 but are hoping Tranel can defeat Republican Ryan Zinke and Libertarian John Lamb for Montana's 1st Congressional District seat in the Nov. 8, 2022 election. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)
            
              Republican U.S. House candidate Ryan Zinke waves to drivers passing at an intersection, Oct. 27, 2022, in Bozeman, Mont. The former interior secretary under Trump stood in the cold outside a Loaf 'N Jug gas station and weathered a barrage of curses, friendly honks, obscene gestures and shouts of support. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)
            
              Republican U.S. House candidate Ryan Zinke speaks to business community members during a meeting at the Lockhorn Cider House, Sept. 30, 2022, in Bozeman, Mont. Zinke was widely considered the front-runner entering the race but narrowly won the Republican primary and now faces Democrat Monica Tranel and Libertarian John Lamb in the general election. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Montana Republican Matt Rosendale easily won a second term in the U.S. House as he fended off a pair of challengers in a newly drawn district in the east but it was still too early Wednesday to call a second House race featuring President Donald Trump’s former interior secretary, Republican Ryan Zinke.

Rosendale and Zinke are trying to extend the recent GOP dominance in the state. Republicans have not lost a U.S. House race in Montana since 1994. Over the past decade, voters swept Democrats from almost every statewide elected office, except for U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, who is up for re-election in 2024.

After the eastern district was called for Rosendale early Wednesday morning, he said the results reflected concern among voters about high energy costs, a shaky economy and rising crime that the lawmaker blamed on lax border security.

To address those worries, Rosendale said Republicans must focus on increasing domestic energy supplies and securing the southern border to reduce the flow of dangerous drugs.

“If we focus on those two issues, then we will have a dramatic impact on improving the lives of people in the state of Montana and across the nation,” he said.

“It’s a good night for Montana and a good night for America,” he added.

Rosendale emerged during his first term as a hard-right conservative. He’s backed Trump’s false statements about the 2020 election and recently voted against U.S. support for Ukraine in its war against Russia, citing what he said are more pressing security needs along the southern border.

His opponents — Democrat Penny Ronning and independent Gary Buchanan — characterized Rosendale as too extreme for Montana and beholden to outside interests that have heavily supported his political career.

Rosendale emphasized the importance of dissenting views in Washington and blamed Democrats in control of Congress and the White House for blocking reforms that could boost the agriculture and energy industry.

Rosendale through Oct. 19 raised more than $2.1 million for the election — about three times as much cash as Buchanan and Ronning combined, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

Also on the ballot were two Montana Supreme Court races, one of which became abnormally politicized, and an abortion-related referendum.

Results were delayed in some counties as election officials waited to post results until everyone waiting in line when polls closed was able to cast a ballot. In Missoula County, election officials inadvertently included the results from a Monday equipment test in their initial results, causing a long delay while they adjusted the vote report to remove the erroneous information.

Zinke won two statewide elections to the U.S. House before joining Trump’s cabinet, where he eased restrictions on oil and gas drilling before resigning amid numerous ethics investigations.

The former U.S. Navy SEAL, who barely survived June’s primaryover a far-right opponent, is vying for the seat representing western Montana. He is being challenged by Democratic attorney Monica Tranel and Libertarian John Lamb.

Zinke has tried to portray himself as moderate, saying he does not support a no-exceptions ban on abortion, but has parroted GOP attacks on the Biden administration, including on gun rights and border security.

Zinke denied wrongdoing as Interior secretary and dismissed as vindictive investigators’ reports that he lied during a probe into a Native American casino proposal and about his involvement in a real estate project in his hometown.

Tranel is a consumer rights and environmental attorney from Missoula who ran unsuccessfully for Public Service Commission in 2020. She’s campaigned on pledges to promote renewable energy development, expand affordable housing and end tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy.

Lamb is an antigovernment extremist who thinks the punishments for many Jan. 6 Capitol rioters have been too harsh.

In elections for Montana Supreme Court, incumbent Jim Rice defeated Billings attorney Bill D’Alton by a wide margin. It was too early to call a second race between incumbent Ingrid Gustafson and attorney James Brown, who was elected as a Republican to the state Public Service Commission.

Elections of justices are supposed to be nonpartisan. However, the race between Gustafson and Brown has drawn huge sums of cash as Republicans back Brown and try to push the court in a more conservative direction, while Democrats hope to maintain its liberal majority to prevent the erosion of abortion rights in Montana.

The abortion related ballot referendum raises the prospect of criminal charges for health care providers unless they take “all medically appropriate and reasonable actions to preserve the life” of an infant born alive, including after an attempted abortion.

Opponents argue the proposal could rob parents of precious time with infants born with incurable medical issues if doctors are forced to attempt treatment. Supporters say it’s meant to prevent the killing of infants outside the womb after failed abortions, which already is illegal.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Rosendale wins reelection in Montana US House race