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Republicans Inch Closer to Majority as Navy SEAL Former Trump Official Wins Hotly Contested Seat

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Former Trump administration Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke won his race to represent the newly created 1st Congressional District of Montana.

The Associated Press called the race for Zinke Thursday with the former U.S. Navy SEAL defeating Democrat Monica Tranel by 49.7 percent to 46.4 percent or about 8,000 votes.

As of Thursday afternoon, Republicans had won 209 seats of the 218 needed to control the House of Representatives, while the Democrats held 191, according to The New York Times.

Zinke served in Congress from 2015 to 2017 as Montana’s sole House member-at-large before the results of the 2020 U.S. Census netted the Treasure State a second seat.

The 1st District is made up of the western part of the state and includes the Democrat-dominated Missoula County (home of the University of Montana) and Democrat-heavy Gallatin County, where Bozeman (home to Montana State University) is located.

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Zinke led the Department of the Interior from 2017 until the end of Dec. 2018 when he resigned amid ethics probes into his travel and potential conflicts of interest, according to the AP.

The combat veteran denied wrongdoing at the time. Zinke announced his retirement saying, “I love working for the President and am incredibly proud of all the good work we’ve accomplished together.

“However, after 30 years of public service, I cannot justify spending thousands of dollars defending myself and my family against false allegations,” Zinke added.

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Fox News reported, “Tranel, an environmental and consumer rights attorney from Missoula, sought to portray Zinke as a ‘snake’ who left the Trump administration in scandal.”

Zinke thanked Montanans Thursday for the trust they placed in him by returning him to Congress.

“I’m incredibly grateful to the people of Western Montana for once again placing their trust in me to fight for them in Washington, D.C. The voters saw through the vicious lies and deceit of my opponent and radical political groups,” Zinke said.

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Zinke served 23 years in the military and was deployed to Iraq, where he led a force of 3,500 Special Operations personnel, according to his campaign website.

Other former Navy SEALs fared well in their midterm contests too.

Republican Derrick Van Orden, a retired SEAL, won Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District over Democratic candidate Brad Pfaff, flipping the seat from blue to red for the first time in 26 years.

Additionally, former SEAL Eli Crane flipped Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District defeating incumbent Democrat Tom O’Halleran.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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