Businessman Steve Daines easily won the Republican nomination Tuesday night and is now the favorite to win Montana’s House seat in November.
In the race to replace Rep. Denny Rehberg (R), who is running for Senate, Daines will face state Senate Minority Whip Kim Gillan, who won a crowded Democratic nomination fight.
With 76 percent of precincts reporting, Gillan was leading with 31 percent, followed by state Rep. Franke Wilmer with 18 percent, tech executive Diane Smith with 16 and percent Missoula City Councilman Dave Strohmaier with 14 percent.
The Senate race between Rehberg and Sen. Jon Tester (D) will be among the closest in the country. But the state leans Republican and is not expected to be competitive at the presidential or House levels.
Daines begins the House race with a huge fundraising edge — he had $743,000 as of May 16 to just $65,000 for Gillan.