Zinke declares victory, holds 9k-vote lead in western House race

Tom Kuglin Holly Michels

By Wednesday evening 9,348 votes gave Republican Ryan Zinke the lead over Democrat Monica Tranel in the race to represent Montana’s newly drawn western U.S. House seat, with few votes left to count and leaving Zinke with what looked late Wednesday like a path to victory.

Zinke held 117,611 votes to Tranel’s 108,263 and Libertarian John Lamb had 9,056. The Secretary of State reported 95% of votes had been counted.

The results put Zinke at 50% of the vote, Tranel at 46% and Lamb at 4%. 

By Wednesday night, Zinke’s campaign sent out a press release saying the website Decision Desk HQ had called the race for Zinke. The Montana State News Bureau, like most newspapers, uses the Associated Press to call races. That had not happened yet Wednesday night.

“I’d like to thank everyone who voted for me on Election Day and all those who volunteered with our campaign to get the word out. For those of you who did not vote for me, my door is always open and you’ll find me to have an open ear, open mind and shoot straight when we disagree,” Zinke said in the release.

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