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Gianforte wins Montana gubernatorial primary

Gianforte wins Montana gubernatorial primary
© Greg Nash

Rep. Greg GianforteGregory Richard GianforteWolf hunting rules being eased in Montana despite population decline Montana governor donates first-quarter salary to drug treatment center States push back against federal unemployment policies delaying economic recovery MORE (R-Mont.) won the GOP primary in Montana’s gubernatorial race on Tuesday, setting the stage for what is expected to be a hard-fought battle to lead the state.

Gianforte beat out Tim Fox, his nearest competitor, by about 26 points with over 81 percent of precincts reporting. He is set to face off against Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney (D), who won his primary race by about 11 points.

The Montana Republican was elected to the state's at-large congressional seat during a special election to replace then-Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden launches blitz for jobs plan with 'thank you, Georgia' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court sets in motion EPA ban on pesticide linked to developmental issues | Trump Interior Secretary Zinke files to run for Congress, again | Senate passes bipartisan B water infrastructure bill Trump Interior Secretary Zinke files to run for Congress, again MORE in 2017. Gianforte opted to pursue higher office last year.

Gianforte and Cooney will run to replace Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockBiden 'allies' painting him into a corner Democratic Kansas City, Mo., mayor eyes Senate run Overnight Energy: Climate Summit Day 2 — Biden says US will work with other countries on climate innovation MORE (D), who is term-limited and running for the Senate. The Cook Political Report rates the Montana race as a "toss up."