Zinke clinches GOP nomination for Montana House seat
Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is on track to return to the House Representatives.
Zinke is projected to beat out four other Republicans, including his main rival — surgeon Al Olszewski — in the GOP primary for Montana’s 1st Congressional District. The win makes him the heavy favorite to represent the newly created district in Washington next year.
The primary took place on Tuesday. The Associated Press called the race on Thursday at 7:52 p.m. ET.
Zinke represented Montana’s at-large congressional district from 2015 until 2017, when former President Trump tapped him to lead the Interior Department.
He resigned as Interior secretary in 2019 amid multiple investigations into his travel and potential conflicts of interest.
The allegations of wrongdoing have fueled attacks from Zinke’s primary rivals, who have raised questions about his ethics and behavior while serving in public office.
Despite those controversies, Zinke is seeking to return to Washington and he has the support of his former boss. Trump endorsed his congressional bid last month during a telerally for Zinke.
Montana is gaining a new congressional district this year as part of the decennial redistricting process. The state’s newly drawn 1st District, which includes the western portion of the state, is rated as a “likely Republican” seat by The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election handicapper.
Under the new lines, Trump would have carried the district in 2020 by 7 points.
Still, Democrats see the district as potentially competitive. Among the candidates seeking the party’s nomination for the 1st District are public health advocate Cora Neumann, attorney Monica Tranel and former state Rep. Tom Winter.
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