MISSOULA - We are still waiting for a winner in Montana's Western District Congressional race between Republican Ryan Zinke and Democrat Monica Tranel.
There are thousands of ballots remaining to be counted — including in Missoula County. As of 7:15 a.m. on Wednesday, the numbers showed Zinke leading Tranel 50% to 46%. Libertarian candidate John Lamb had 4% of the vote.
Up to 100 Zinke supporters gathered on election night at Casey’s in Whitefish to await the results. But with the results from the large counties coming in slowly, the crowds started to thin out around 11 p.m. and by midnight, it was clear that Zinke was not going to be making any big statements tonight about the results of the election.
At this point, Zinke’s campaign’s not yet saying when he may come out and say something one way or the other regarding the results. We'll likely hear something from the campaign later on Wednesday, but it's too early at this point to say what that might be or when.
Zinke has been trying to make a comeback to the U.S. House, hoping to win the Western District and make his third trip to the U.S. House after winning twice as an at-large candidate in 2014 and 2016.
Meanwhile, Tranel and her supporters spent Tuesday night watching the results at the Union Club in Missoula.
“We’ve knocked more doors than any US House seat,” Tranel told cheering supporters. And that’s you.”
Citing a strong ground game, the Tranel campaign held events in every county of the new district. She said the energy at Union Club was indicative of her powerful campaign.
“This is just a reflection of the campaign that we’ve run and the team that we have. I am so grateful to all of the volunteers,” Tranel said. “This race has been incredible with people showing up and believing in me, believing in Montana.”
Tranel’s campaign for the U.S. House has been focused on trying to harness the frustrations many Montanans are feeling. Housing, green energy production, and a woman’s right to privacy have been central to her campaign.
“I’ve talked to everyone, I’ve been to everywhere in this district, and that’s what this is about,” Tranel said.
The Democrat says she’s grateful for everyone who chose her to be their representative, "I’m just super grateful to my family, my team, and the volunteers. They were out at 5 this morning dropping lid. Every vote matters!”