Former Trump Interior Secretary and congressman Ryan Zinke has won a close GOP primary race for Montana’s new western congressional district. He was endorsed by Donald Trump.
Zinke resigned as Interior Secretary in December 2018 during ethics investigations into his official actions.
Interior Department Inspector General Mark Greenblatt said Zinke broke ethics rules in a Montana land negotiation deal. Zinke was accused of misusing his position in the Trump administration by ordering Interior Department employees to help him with that land deal.
“Thank you western Montana for your confidence that America can be fixed and for ignoring the political BS,” Zinke said in a statement emailed out by his campaign Wednesday evening.
Zinke’s closest primary opponent, state Sen. Al Olszewski , conceded the race after a hand recount in Lincoln County ended Thursday afternoon, according to the Helena Independent Record.
“I’m honored by the over 30,000 voters who supported me in this election. We started as big underdog and ran a race based on the conservative principles of our Republican Party,” Olszewski said Thursday night in a statement.
“However it’s clear that we will not be victorious in this race. This evening I called Mr. Zinke to concede the race. I want to thank all my supporters and team for their help. Together we accomplished so much and I want to thank my family who was with me throughout it all.”
The congressional seat for which Zinke is running is the first time in 30 years Montana will send two representatives to the U.S. House.
The state gained the extra seat in reapportionment because of population growth.
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