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Zinke projected to win Republican nomination for U.S. House in Montana

The Interior Department secretary during the Trump presidency prevailed

U.S. House candidate and former Interior Department secretary Ryan Zinke waves to motorists in Kalispell, Mont., on June 7. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake/AP)

A previous version of this article incorrectly said Penny Ronning won the Democratic nomination in Zinke's district. She won the nomination in Montana's other House district. The article has been corrected.

Ryan Zinke, a former Trump administration official, is projected to win the GOP nomination for Montana’s new U.S. House district, according to the Associated Press.

Zinke, the Interior Department secretary during the Trump presidency, won the Republican nomination with Donald Trump’s endorsement despite charges that he wasn’t as conservative as some of the other candidates and that his wife’s primary residence is in California. He will be heavily favored to win in November in a state Trump won by 16 points in 2020.

Zinke prevailed over four Republican primary opponents and seeks to represent the new 1st District in western Montana created during redistricting. Montana now has two seats in the House of Representatives.

A former Navy SEAL officer and state senator, Zinke previously represented Montana in the House from 2015 to 2017, when he joined the Trump administration. He resigned as secretary of the Interior Department in December 2018 under pressure from the White House during probes into alleged misconduct in office.

The Interior Department’s inspector general had recently referred an inquiry to the Justice Department, which ultimately declined to bring charges. In a report released this year, the inspector general found that Zinke broke ethics rules while participating in real estate negotiations and lied to an ethics official.

With almost all votes counted Thursday evening, the AP said, Zinke had close to 42 percent of the vote from Tuesday’s primary. Al Olszewski, a former state legislator, trailed closely at nearly 40 percent, with the other three GOP candidates far behind.

In a statement posted to Twitter, Zinke thanked Montanans for “ignoring the political BS” and also paid tribute to Trump, whose endorsement featured prominently in Zinke’s campaign. The former president’s approval remains coveted in GOP primary races even as Trump’s picks have fallen short in states such as Georgia, Idaho and Nebraska.

Monica Tranel won the Democratic nomination, according to AP.

The 2022 Midterm Elections

Georgia runoff election: Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D) won re-election in the Georgia Senate runoff, defeating Republican challenger Herschel Walker and giving Democrats a 51st seat in the Senate for the 118th Congress. Get live updates here and runoff results by county.

Divided government: Republicans narrowly won back control of the House, while Democrats will keep control of the Senate, creating a split Congress.

What the results mean for 2024: A Republican Party red wave seems to be a ripple after Republicans fell short in the Senate and narrowly won control in the House. Donald Trump announced his 2024 presidential campaign shortly after the midterms. Here are the top 10 2024 presidential candidates for the Republicans and Democrats.