Zinke leads Tranel by 7,945 votes; race too close to call

Tom Kuglin Holly Michels

By Wednesday afternoon, 10,959 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 votes still left to count.

Zinke held 114,440 votes to Tranel’s 103,481 and Libertarian John Lamb had 8,717.

The latest batch of results included another 6,724 ballots out of Flathead County.

Turnout had reached 56% statewide and about 75% of precincts across Montana were reporting by 3 p.m.

Polls closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday and results were slow to trickle in as larger counties in the district reported long lines of people waiting to vote late in the day and a few issues with reporting results. Once larger counties in the district began updating results, Zinke and Tranel traded leads through the late night and early morning, sometimes separated by a few hundred votes.

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Monica Tranel greets supporters at the Union Club in Missoula on Tuesday night.

BEN ALLAN SMITH, Missoulian

By Wednesday

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