Election Guide '22

The candidates and issues on Montana's 2022 ballot

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Ryan Zinke
2022 Republican candidate for U.S. House District 1 (West)

Ryan Zinke

Former U.S. Interior Secretary

Zinke, 60, served as Montana’s sole U.S. congressman from 2014 until 2017, when he relinquished that seat to become the Secretary of the Department of the Interior under former President Donald Trump. Zinke resigned from that position in 2018 after investigations into possible ethics violations, which Zinke dismissed as “false allegations.” In February, the department’s Office of Inspector General found that Zinke had misused his office but had not engaged in criminal conduct.

Since leaving his federal position, Zinke has worked as a contractor for private companies, including ConocoPhillips, Cyber Range Solutions and JVL Enterprises of Dallas.

Before his election to Congress, Zinke was a state lawmaker in Montana. Zinke served as a U.S. Navy SEAL for over 20 years, retiring in 2008.

This biography was compiled with information from the secretary of state’s records, national news articles and reporting by KTVH on Zinke’s 2022 financial disclosure.

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Reporting on this candidate published by the Montana Free Press newsroom.
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Campaign finance

Based on reporting required by the U.S. Federal Election Commission. See individual candidate pages on the FEC website or the FEC's race summary page for more information. The FEC summary page may include candidates who haven't filed for the ballot in this race with the Montana secretary of state.
Candidate
Raised
Spent
Remaining
Ryan Zinke (R)
thru 3/31/22
$2.5M
$1.3M
$1.2M
Cora Neumann (D)
thru 3/31/22
$1.2M
$388k
$878k
Al Olszewski (R)
thru 3/31/22
$678k
$313k
$365k
Monica Tranel (D)
$675k
$409k
$266k
Mary Todd (R)
$168k
$61k
$107k
Tom Winter (D)
thru 3/31/22
$95k
$79k
$16k
Mitch Heuer (R)
No FEC filings on record
$0
$0
$0
Matt Jette (R)
No FEC filings on record
$0
$0
$0
John Lamb (L)
No FEC filings on record
$0
$0
$0

On the issues

The material shown below was solicted from candidates via a written questionnaire in May 2022. Responses were limited to 1,000 characters and edited lightly for punctuation and spelling. Responses have not been exhaustively fact-checked. Send questions to Eric Dietrich at edietrich@montanafreepress.org.
Q1: Polls indicate many Americans are concerned about the integrity of the nation’s democratic institutions. Both as a political candidate and as a potential member of Congress, what can you do to promote Montanans’ faith in American democracy?
Ryan Zinke:

The public’s trust and faith in election outcomes is important to ensure confidence in our government. I support the reforms signed into law by Governor Gianforte and believe elections should be run by the states.

Q2: Do you believe Joe Biden was legitimately elected president in 2020?
Ryan Zinke:

Joe Biden is the 46th president of the United States.

Q3: The cost of health care is a concern for many Montana families. What federal action would you support to improve the U.S. health care system?
Ryan Zinke:

I support efforts to expand telehealth and rural health services and provide more flexibility and power to patients and doctors to make decisions outside what’s reimbursable or not. We also need to make improvements to veterans health care and Indian Health Services. We made a promise to our veterans and have treaty obligations — the federal government has fallen short on both.

Q4: Housing costs are an increasing concern for many Montanans. What federal action would you support to promote housing affordability in Montana?
Ryan Zinke:

The answer to Montana’s housing crisis is not more government housing. The answer is to get government out of the way and reduce costs and timelines for builders. The federal government can take action to promote the affordable and stable supply of building materials to include implementing a series of regulatory holidays, increasing domestic production of raw materials and minerals, and ending covid-era policies and spending that are driving up inflation. We also need meaningful permitting relief; lengthy and costly permitting processes also unnecessarily tie up construction projects.

Q5: To what extent do you see climate change as an urgent issue? What if any federal action would you support to mitigate its effects?
Ryan Zinke:

Conservation does not mean locking people out of public lands or stopping multiple use of the land. During my tenure as Secretary of the Interior we increased federal energy revenues (which benefits conservation of public lands) by promoting all energy sources, not just fossil fuels or renewables. Under my leadership, we held the largest renewable energy sale in the history of this country with offshore wind and we expanded onshore wind and solar projects. At the same time, we produced record volume of oil and gas, reduced emissions and had the strongest safety year on record. The government’s role should be to ensure a fair playing field for all forms of energy, not select winners and losers with regulations that drive up costs. Industry has proven it is more effective at innovating greener technology than the government is at piling on mandates.

Q6: Do you see reining in the federal debt as a priority? If so, how should that be accomplished? If you support new taxes or spending cuts, please identify specifics about who would pay more or what budget areas you’d cut. (We assume that working to minimize waste, fraud and abuse is a given.)
Ryan Zinke:

Absolutely, which is why I cosponsored legislation for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. If elected, I will maintain my seniority from previous terms in Congress. I will use that position to seek a spot on the appropriations committee to defund and zero out regulations that cost the economy and projects and offices that are wasteful or outside the scope of the federal government. I’ll also work with colleagues to reorganize and reform the executive branch. As Secretary, I saw firsthand how bureaucratic, antiquated and, frankly, wasteful the federal government is. When you try to change anything the answer you’d get back is “Well, we’ve always done it this way.” It has to stop. Billions of dollars in grants go out with no oversight, just autopilot. Jobs are filled blindly without even considering if the tasks could be done better elsewhere. And at the Department of Defense alone there are more than 800,000 employees that aren’t military. Then there’s the procurement process…

Q7: What do you see as the most important priorities for the management of federal lands in Montana? Should the federal government consider transferring some federally held land into state ownership?
Ryan Zinke:

I never have and never will support the sale or transfer of federal lands. In fact, I was nearly kicked off the House Natural Resources committee my freshman year of Congress for voting against all sale/transfer efforts and for LWCF reauthorizations. The federal government must prioritize public access and multiple use of public lands. As Secretary, I opened up hunting and fishing access on millions of acres of federal lands, including in Montana. We constantly sought land swaps and acquisitions to open access to landlocked parcels, and we made historic investments in infrastructure for National Parks. The rationing of access at Glacier National Park would have never happened under my watch. The answer is modernizing infrastructure to allow folks to enjoy more of the park versus shutting the park.

Q8: What do you see as the single most significant issue facing Montana’s public education system, and what if any federal action would you support to address it?
Ryan Zinke:

The federal government is a huge issue facing Montana education. One size fits none federal mandates attached to funding do not work for Montana, especially during covid. I believe Montana’s public education is best managed at the state and local levels and that funding should follow the student, not the school.

Q9: In the event Roe v. Wade is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, would you support federal legislation that either guarantees abortion access or that, alternatively, establishes legal protections for life beginning at conception? What specific provisions would you like to see included in future federal abortion law?
Ryan Zinke:

I agree with the draft opinion leaked from the Supreme Court that there is no constitutional right to murder an unborn child.

Q10: What changes, if any, would you like to see to current federal regulations regarding firearm ownership?
Ryan Zinke:

I have an A rating from the NRA because I believe in the Constitution and that our Second Amendment rights “shall not be infringed.” As a Navy SEAL, Secretary of the Interior and a Montanan, I can say without a doubt our Second Amendment rights protect all the others. As Secretary I opened access for hunting and recreational shooting on millions of acres of federal lands and repealed Obama-era rules that banned traditional ammo on federal lands and prevented the BLM from managing land as shooting ranges. As Congressman, I would support legislation to further solidify Montanans’ Second Amendment rights such as to: recognize concealed carry reciprocity, ensure equal access to capital for firearm manufacturers, remove suppressors from the NFA, prohibit the VA from stripping veterans of their Second Amendment rights without judicial process, and a series of other measures. I also support local and state efforts to teach hunter education in schools.

Q11: Montanans voted to legalize adult marijuana use in 2020. Do you support removing cannabis from the federal government’s Schedule 1 controlled substance list?
Ryan Zinke:

Yes.

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