Kathleen Williams, Sun A1 Portrait

Democrat Kathleen Williams of Bozeman is making her second bid for the U.S. House.

Kathleen Williams is moving ahead in the Democratic primary race for Montana’s U.S. House seat with recent fundraising reports showing strong gains and with Matt Rains dropping out of the race and endorsing her.

Williams, a former state lawmaker from Bozeman, and state Rep. Tom Winter, D-Missoula, will face each other in the June primary.

Williams’ campaign recently announced she received more than $365,000 in the last quarter of 2019, bringing her fundraising total to $1.2 million.

Campaign finance reports for the final months of 2019 are not yet due, and Winter has yet to release his fourth-quarter fundraising total. He had raised about $198,600 by Sept. 30, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Williams’ campaign manager Jeff Allen said Williams’ fundraising success shows she has support from Montanans.

“This campaign is funded by thousands of Montanans, not big D.C. special interests,” he said in a news release. “They know Kathleen is focused on fixing the problems they see every day.”

Williams lost the U.S. House race to Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte in 2018. Gianforte isn’t seeking another term and is instead running for governor.

Her fundraising total is similar to that of Republican frontrunner and state auditor Matt Rosendale, who announced this week that he raised more than $370,000 in the last quarter of 2019 and has brought in more than $1 million since launching his campaign.

“I’m beyond excited to have raised more than $1 million in the last six months and to see this strong level of support building around our winning team,” Rosendale said in a news release.

Rosendale ran for U.S. Senate in 2018 and lost to incumbent Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat.

The remaining Republicans in the U.S. House race — Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, Corvallis School Superintendent Tim Johnson, Helena rancher Joe Dooling and former Montana Republican Party Chair and Livingston Rep. Debra Lamm — haven’t released fourth-quarter fundraising totals. None of them had approached $1 million by Sept. 30, according to the Federal Election Commission.

There were three Democrats seeking the party’s U.S House nomination until Tuesday, when Rains announced he is dropping out. He is now seeking to fill the seat for House District 22 in Cascade County. Rep. Lola Sheldon-Galloway, a Republican, now holds the seat. No one has yet filed for the race with the Secretary of State’s office.

“Kathleen has an amazing campaign, and I have so much respect for her,” Rains said. “We’re in good hands.”

Rains, who served in the military and worked as a humanitarian photographer and energy engineer, now runs the Birdtail Ranch in Simms. If elected to the state Legislature, he said he would focus on protecting and supporting rural agriculture, advocating for veterans and investing in education.

In a news release, Williams said she appreciates the endorsement and thinks Rains will be an asset to the state Legislature.

“I’m honored to have Matt’s support in this campaign,” she said.

Perrin Stein can be reached at pstein@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2648.

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