The race between Bullock, the state’s governor, and Daines, a former business executive who first won his seat in 2014, featured tens of millions of dollars in spending from outside Democratic and Republican groups. Polls leading up to the election gave Daines a small lead.
Bullock, who won a second gubernatorial term in 2016 even as President Donald Trump won the state by double digits, was considered the only Democrat with a chance of ousting Daines. National Democrats’ successful recruitment of him in March to challenge Daines was considered a coup; as he briefly sought his party’s presidential nomination, he insisted he wasn’t interested in running for Senate.
Montana was one of several states where Democrats mounted strong challenges against Republican senators. Daines’ victory is a crucial one for the GOP fight to keep control of the Senate, which Republicans currently control 53-47.
Like many other Democratic challengers, Bullock received a key boost from small-dollar donors around the country. He raised $43 million to Daines’ $27 million, according to Federal Election Commission reports.
Bullock used that financial advantage to blast Daines for having too soft an approach to China and for working to repeal insurance protections for people with preexisting conditions. Daines fired back with ads tying the moderate Bullock to left-wing Democrats like New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.