HELENA — Attorney General Steve Bullock continues to lead in the money race among the field of candidates seeking the governor's office, according to the latest campaign finance reports that also show Republican front runner Rick Hill maintaining his edge in the GOP field.
Bullock's supporters gave him another $100,000 in the first two months of the year, and he rolls toward the June primary as the presumptive nominee for the Democrats with about $440,000 in the bank.
On the Republican side, former Congressman Rick Hill maintained his advantage in that primary by totaling more than $290,000 in his campaign coffers, according to the latest campaign finance reports released late Monday. He raised about $70,000 over the first two months of the year from individual contributors.
Republican rivals tried to keep pace by giving or loaning money to their own campaigns, but still fell short. The Hill campaign pointed out that it received about as much in individual contributions as its top three rivals combined.
"Rick's success comes from the generosity and confidence of Montanans showing a strong grassroots presence throughout the state," said spokesman Brock Lowrance. "As other candidates bail out their own campaigns with borrowed money, Rick's campaign is driven by the support of over 2,200 individuals making a financial investment in his campaign."
Former state Sen. Ken Miller from Laurel is a social conservative vying for tea party support. The campaign has been attacking Hill as "a former liberal Republican Congressman" in fundraising emails, bashing GOP rivals as "country club" Republicans and touting his 31 years of faithful marriage.
The aggressive tactics still left him far short of Hill in fundraising over the last two months. And a national tea party leader's request for an out-of-state "money bomb" did not appear to generate much meaningful outside interest.
Miller collected about $30,000 from individual contributors, but buoyed his effort with a large loan from himself to total about $65,000 over the last two months. Miller reported about $70,000 on hand.
Former state Sen. Corey Stapleton, of Billings, holds about $150,000 as a crowded GOP field heads toward a June primary showdown. The financial adviser who is trying to court both conservatives and Main Street business Republicans gave his campaign about half of the $40,000 in new money it collected in January and February.
Former counterterrorism expert Neil Livingstone, who has moved back to his home state after a long career in Washington D.C., had less than $10,000 in individual contributions from Montanans. But he did buoy his campaign effort with another $32,500 of his own money to leave the campaign with about $17,000 in the bank.
Republican gubernatorial candidates Jim Lynch, the former director of the Department of Transportation, and Choteau County commissioner James O'Hara reported raising less than $10,000. A report was not available for anti-wolf activist Bob Fanning, of Pray.
In other races:
• Republican attorney general candidate Tim Fox raised more than $42,000 from individuals in his first month in the race, easily outpacing state Sen. Jim Shockley. Democrats Pam Bucy and Jesse Laslovich remained locked in a tight contest and each raised more than $20,000.
• Republican Scott Aspenlieder raised almost $17,000 over the two months in his effort to clear a four-way primary and beat incumbent Linda McCulloch, who raised more than $10,000 in the period and held a slight cash-on-hand advantage with $45,000 in coffers. Republican Brad Johnson, trying to get his old job back, has just about $1,500 in the bank. Republican Drew Turiano lent his own campaign about $20,000.
• Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau raised about $28,000 and held $73,000. The Democrat is being challenged by Republican Sandy Welch, who raised about $5,000 and held $10,000.
• State Auditor Monica Lindeen raised about $17,000 and held $50,000 in the bank to easily outpace Republican state Rep. Derek Skees, of Kalispell, who raised just a few thousand dollars.