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Troy Downing wins GOP nomination for eastern Montana House race

downing election night.jpg
Posted at 9:18 PM, Jun 04, 2024

State Auditor Troy Downing has won the Republican nomination in a crowded eastern Montana House race on Tuesday.

Downing was leading with 37% of the vote in the eight-person race for Montana's second congressional district when the race was called by Decision Desk HQ. The district includes most of central and eastern Montana, including Helena, Great Falls and Billings.

Downing saw a big boost to his campaign when former President Donald Trump announced Monday he's endorsing him. Downing was also the top fundraiser in the field, reporting raising $863,000 from April 1 to May 15, according to The Daily Montanan. Of that total, $700,000 was from a personal loan.

Downing was one of eight Republicans in the race, including state Superintendent of Public Schools Elsie Arntzen of Billings, former Congressman Denny Rehberg of Billings, state Sen. Ken Bogner of Miles City, former DEA agent Stacy Zinn of Billings, former state Rep. Ric Holden of Glendive, Billings businessman Kyle Austin and former Montana House member Joel Krautter of Sidney.

Troy Downing reacts to primary win

Rehberg and Zinn were in second and third place in early returns, followed by Arntzen.

"It's been a weird campaign for me because I would travel all now, 41 counties and I only had 90 days," Rehberg said. "So it's been hard for me because I'm used to traveling Montana and talking to people and it just hasn't been possible."

Born in California, Downing moved to Montana in the late 1990s and lives in Helena. He first ran for public office in 2018, when he lost in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate. He was elected state auditor in 2020.

The seat is held by incumbent Republican Matt Rosendale, who won the district in 2022 by a healthy margin over Democratic challenger Penny Ronning and independent Gary Buchanan.