Democratic governor candidate Williams records big fundraising haul

Whitney Williams

(KPAX) Democrat Whitney Williams, a late entry into Montana’s 2020 gubernatorial race, reported Monday that she raised more than $439,000 in the final three months of last year – more than any other candidate in that period.

Williams, 48, the founder of a Missoula-based consultancy that works with nonprofit and philanthropic groups, said the amount is a record for the first quarter of any Montana Democratic candidate.

“I am honored to have the support of so many Montanans as we build the professional operation needed to take on New Jersey (millionaire) Greg Gianforte,” she said in a statement, referring to one of the three Republican candidates for governor.

Gianforte, Montana’s current U.S. House representative, a multimillionaire high-tech entrepreneur, also reported his latest fundraising totals Monday — and he continues to be the money leader in the crowded race for the open governor’s seat. Gianforte co-founded the software firm RightNow Technologies in the mid-1990s in Bozeman, where he’s lived since then. The firm was sold to Oracle Corp. in 2012 for $1.8 billion.

Gianforte’s campaign said it raised about $345,000 during the past three months, increasing his total campaign funds to almost $1.4 million, including $22,000 from his own pocket.

Also Monday, another Republican in the race – Attorney General Tim Fox – reported raising about $106,000 during the past three months, pushing his total to $566,000 for the campaign.

The third Republican in the race, state Sen. Al Olszewski of Kalispell, hadn’t yet reported his latest fundraising numbers late Monday.

Williams is one of four Democrats in the 2020 governor’s race.

Greg Gianforte

House Minority Leader Casey Schreiner of Great Falls, another Democrat, reported Monday that he raised only $15,000 during the past four months, increasing his campaign total to about $85,000.

The other top candidate, Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney hadn’t released or reported his fourth-quarter fundraising late Monday, which is the deadline for reporting.

The other Democrat in the race is former state Rep. Reilly Neill of Livingston, who had raised only $1,000 through last September.

Williams is the daughter of former Rep. Pat Williams and state Rep. Carol Williams – Montana’s first minority leader in House and Senate – and is making her first run for political office. She worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and since 2003 has been CEO of her consulting business, williamsworks.

The company says it has worked on “strategic services” for nonprofit, philanthropic and corporate clients. Williams’ campaign said her company has “helped folks get back on their feet after disaster strikes and opened new markets for farmers struggling to make ends meet.”