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Democrat John Driscoll, Republican Troy Downing to compete for Eastern Congressional seat

Troy Downing as his primary election watch party Tuesday night.
Jackie Coffin
Yellowstone Public Radio
Troy Downing at his primary election watch party Tuesday night.

For candidates in Montana’s Eastern Congressional race, campaigning picks up right on the heels of a hard-fought primary against several members of their own parties.

Two candidates rose to the top in a crowded primary bid to take over for Republican Congressman Matt Rosendale, who decided not to seek re-election to the House of Representatives.

Results for Republican Troy Downing’s win trickled in a little earlier Tuesday night than for Democratic candidate John Driscoll, a former Montana state representative. The Associated Press declared Driscoll the Democratic primary winner right before midnight.

Driscoll said Wednesday morning that his win tells him there’s a strong indication of support, which he says he’ll need because he plans to continue his campaign on a tight budget.

“So, it’s gonna take people being involved, and I think there’s a good indication that they’ve decided to do that, and I’m happy about it,” Driscoll said.

He said he intends to spend no more than 5,000 dollars campaigning in the next stretch of the race. Driscoll did not file any reports with the Federal Election Commission indicating any fundraising or spending on his primary campaign.

According to the most recent FEC filings, Downing, in comparison, raised and spent more than any other candidate in the primary race. His total receipts come in at more than $1.8 million, which includes $900,000 of his own money.

Driscoll pulled in around a third of nearly 40,000 Democratic votes, followed by Steve Held with almost 27 percent, Ming Cabrera with roughly 21 percent and Kevin Hamm with more than 19 percent.

Downing raked in about 36 percent of over 99,000 thousand Republican votes, putting Republican voter turnout at more-than double that for Democrats. The rest of the votes were split between the eight other Republican candidates on the ballot, all of whom received less than 20% of the vote. Downing celebrated in Billings Tuesday night.

After the AP called the race in his favor around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Downing thanked his supporters: “Now, truly, thank you. I’m incredibly grateful.”

You can learn more about the outcome of the primary election on the Montana Secretary of State’s website.

Kayla writes about energy policy, the oil and gas industry and new electricity developments.