Banking and Finance

How GOP Outside Spending Turned a Loser Into a Winner in Montana
Congressional Leadership Fund spent $2.7 million to boost Greg Gianforte

Greg Gianforte won the special election for Montana’s at-large House seat Thursday despite attacking a reporter the night before. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Six months ago, Republican Greg Gianforte lost Montana’s gubernatorial election by nearly 4 points. Thursday night, he won statewide by about 6 points.

Congressional special elections are, well, special. The electorate is different, and so is the spending. Last fall, Gianforte was running against an incumbent.

Energy, Interior Nominees Caught in Budget Crossfire
Energy and Natural Resources hearing becomes forum on Trump budget cuts

Minnesota Sen. Al Franken expressed hope that one Energy Department nominee would be “a voice of reason and experience.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senators on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee used a Thursday confirmation hearing for a deputy Energy secretary and two other regulators to question elements of the Trump administration’s fiscal 2018 budget proposal.

The confirmation hearing for Dan Brouillette to be Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s deputy included questions from senators seeking clarity from the nominee about his views of some of the more controversial proposals in the Trump budget, including the plan to draw down by half the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Big Spending in Montana Portends a Close Election
Two flawed candidates battle for at-large district Thursday

Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte speaks to supporters during a campaign meet and greet Tuesday in Great Falls, Montana.  (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Updated 9:48 p.m. | Ahead of Thursday night’s “body-slamming” incident, most bets were on Republican nominee Greg Gianforte, who’s led by single digits in recent public and private polling, winning Montana’s at-large House seat on Thursday.

But that’d still be a dramatic shift from President Donald Trump’s 20-point victory in the state last fall.

Opinion: Montana Special Election Unlikely to Predict Larger Political Trend
But get ready for a barrage of talking points

Democrat Rob Quist, right, is vying with Republican Greg Gianforte in the race for Montana’s at-large House seat. (Courtesy Greg for Montana, Rob Quist for Montana)

Sometime after 10 p.m. Thursday in Washington, everyone in politics will feign being an expert on Montana or, as they will call it with an insider’s flourish, Big Sky Country. The returns from the first statewide race of the Trump era will inevitably trigger the type of frenzied over-analysis reserved for special elections at moments of political turmoil.

If the Republicans hang on to the House seat vacated by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the sighs of relief from imperiled GOP incumbents may set off every wind chime in the D.C. area. Greg Gianforte, who ran 47,000 votes behind Donald Trump in a losing 2016 bid for governor, brings to the race two decided advantages — he is rich (he sold his software company for $1.5 billion in 2011) and he is a Republican.

Supreme Court Affirms Ban on ‘Soft Money’ in Campaigns
Opponents of ban say they will take concerns to Congress

Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., applauded the high court's decision to let a lower court's ruling on the case stand. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the so-called soft money ban on state and local parties, prompting opponents of the restriction to turn their pleas for repeal to Congress.

Although proponents of political money limits cheered the decision, they said that new Justice Neil Gorsuch’s position on the case confirmed their fears about his campaign finance views.

Rokita and Messer Trade Accusations
Indiana Republican congressmen are both considering running for Senate against Donnelly

Rep. Todd Rokita  said fellow Indiana Republican Rep Luke Messer planted a story about him using campaign funds for a private plane. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Todd Rokita is accusing fellow Republican Rep. Luke Messer of planting a negative story about him in the media ahead of the two possibly facing in Indiana’s Senate race next year.

A recent post in Politico Pro revealed that Rokita had used $100,000 in campaign funds on use of a private plane. The story pointed out that he had broken no ethics rules or laws.

Rating Change: Montana Special Creeps Closer to Tossup
Voters to decide Thursday who will replace Interior Secretary Zinke

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who won last year’s Democratic presidential primary in Montana, campaigned over the weekend with Democratic House candidate Rob Quist. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The special election for Montana’s at-large House seat hasn’t received as much as attention as the race in Georgia, but it’s a similar storyline: Democrats are doing better than expected and an upset is within the realm of possibility.

Less than a week before the Thursday, May 25, election, wealthy former software executive Greg Gianforte has a narrow advantage over his Democratic opponent, musician Rob Quist. But Quist recently crossed the $5 million fundraising threshold, giving him ample resources to deliver his message in the final days in a relatively cheap state for advertising. 

DCCC Breaks April Fundraising Record With $9 Million Haul
GOP outraised Democratic campaign arm by $1 million

New Mexico Rep. Ben Ray Luján is chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised more than $9 million in April, breaking its previous fundraising records for the month. Still, that’s about a million dollars less than what the group’s Republican counterpart raised last month.

Republicans are defending two House seats in two closely watched upcoming special elections in Montana and Georgia. The DCCC has invested in both of those races, but not as much as some Democrats would like. 

NRCC Raises $10 Million for Fourth Straight Month
House GOP campaign arm posts best April haul in history

Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers presides over the NRCC, which has raised $46 million in the first four months of the year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The National Republican Congressional Committee raised more than $10 million in April, marking the fourth month in a row that the group raised that much money — its longest streak in history.

While President Donald Trump’s White House continues to cause headaches for congressional Republicans, his presidency has been a boon for the House GOP’s campaign arm. 

Handel Touts National Republicans’ Contributing to Her Campaign
Republicans have criticized opponent Ossoff’s contributions from Democrats outside the district in Georgia House race

Karen Handel, candidate for the open Georgia 6th Congressional District seat, told donors Vice President Mike Pence and hopefully Sen. Marco Rubio will campaign with her. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Georgia Republican House candidate Karen Handel, who has been critical of Democrats outside the district supporting her opponent, was caught on an audio recording telling donors that national GOP heavyweights will be lending a hand to her campaign.

At a meet and greet for Dekalb County Republicans at a private home, Handel is heard speaking about plans to have Vice President Mike Pence campaign with her.