Kathleen Williams Wins Democratic Nod to Challenge Gianforte in Montana

Gianforte is running for his first full term after winning special election last year

Kathleen Williams won the Democratic nod to challenge GOP Rep. Greg Gianforte, above, in Montana. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former state Rep. Kathleen Williams won the Democratic nomination for Montana’s at-large House seat Tuesday.

Williams will take on Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte, who’s running for his first full term in November after being elected in a May 2017 special election

Williams won 33 percent of the vote, with 99 percent of precincts reporting, according to The Associated Press. 

Williams, who is from Bozeman, got in the race later and raised less money than her primary opponents. She made her opposition to the National Rifle Association and support for an assault weapons ban part of her campaign.

President Donald Trump carried Montana by more than 20 points in 2016, when Gianforte lost a bid for governor. Six months later, Gianforte benefited from massive outside spending from GOP groups attacking Democratic nominee Rob Quist in the House race.

The GOP nominee won the election the day after assaulting a reporter. He defeated Quist by 6 points, a much narrower margin than the 16 points by which then-Rep. Ryan Zinke won re-election in 2016. 

This year, the at-large seat is unlikely to attract the same level of national interest as last year, when it was one of the first elections during Trump’s presidency. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Likely Republican

Gianforte starts with a significant financial advantage, ending the pre-primary reporting period with $1.1 million to Williams’ $90,000.

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