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


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.

'Clueless' Star Breaks Party Lines, Makes Surprising Endorsement for President in 2024

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.

Will the GOP secure a House majority?

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.

Fetterman Uses Sneaky Move to Get Away with Wearing Hoodies and Gym Shorts in Senate

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.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

, , ,
Randy DeSoto has written more than 2,000 articles for The Western Journal since he joined the company in 2015. He is a graduate of West Point and Regent University School of Law. He is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths" and screenwriter of the political documentary "I Want Your Money."
Randy DeSoto is the senior staff writer for The Western Journal. He wrote and was the assistant producer of the documentary film "I Want Your Money" about the perils of Big Government, comparing the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Randy is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths," which addresses how leaders have appealed to beliefs found in the Declaration of Independence at defining moments in our nation's history. He has been published in several political sites and newspapers.

Randy graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a BS in political science and Regent University School of Law with a juris doctorate.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Graduated dean's list from West Point
United States Military Academy at West Point, Regent University School of Law
Books Written
We Hold These Truths
Professional Memberships
Virginia and Pennsylvania state bars
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment, Faith