Montana's western congressional district candidates set for MTN debate

Montana First Congressional District Debate
Posted at 12:29 PM, Sep 30, 2022

HELENA — For the first time in 30 years, Montanans are set to vote in two separate U.S. House races, and MTN is bringing voters a pair of debates so they can hear directly from the candidates.

On Saturday night, MTN will broadcast debates for the 1st and 2nd Congressional Districts live at 6 p.m. Local CBS stations will air the debate for the district they are in. Both debates will be available online and on all MTN stations’ streaming apps. You can go to to find out how to download the streaming app for free.

In the western district, Republican Ryan Zinke will face off with Democrat Monica Tranel – and the candidates are already drawing distinctions on some of the top issues facing the state.

Zinke, a retired Navy SEAL commander, is seeking a return to the House. He was previously elected in 2014 and 2016, when Montana had only one statewide congressional district. In 2017, he left Congress to join the Trump administration as U.S. Secretary of the Interior.

As Zinke campaigns for another term in Congress, he’s calling for limiting federal spending, supporting increased energy production in the U.S. and fighting what he calls government overreach. He told MTN, if elected, he’ll serve as a check on the Biden administration.

“We have to bring back our trust in our government by transparency, holding people accountable again,” he said.

Tranel would be a newcomer to federal office. A former Olympic rower, she’s now an attorney in Missoula. She previously served as a staff attorney for the Montana Public Service Commission and Montana Consumer Counsel.

On the campaign trail, Tranel is talking about addressing growth and affordability, standing up to large corporations, supporting abortion rights and preparing for a transition to new energy sources. She says she’s prepared to serve constituents in the western district, beyond simply legislating.

“I know where the people are, I know where the needs are, and I will know where the resources are and I can help bridge those,” Tranel said.

A third candidate will appear on western district ballots: John Lamb, a Libertarian. Lamb is a farmer and business owner who lives near Norris. MTN did not invite Lamb to participate in Saturday’s debate, because the network determined he did not meet previously established criteria for inclusion. That set of criteria included:

● The candidate must be a legally qualified candidate as specified by the FCC (They must publicly announce his or her candidacy, must be eligible to hold office if elected, and must qualify for a place on the ballot).
● The candidate must have at least 10 percent support in independent polls of the electorate.
● The candidate must have an active campaign, with a campaign office, staff, website and/or telephone number.
● The candidate must have raised funds from outside sources, other than the candidate's own resources.

Absentee ballots will be going out to voters in the western district and across Montana in about two weeks.