- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 9, 2016

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The Latest on the Montana elections (all times local):

10:30 a.m.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is calling on political leaders to rise above the toxicity of a bruising election season.

The Democrat made his comments Wednesday morning while thanking supporters in Helena after defeating Republican challenger Greg Gianforte.

Bullock says he is optimistic that Democratic and Republican leaders can show the people they represent that they are individually and collectively better than the fear, incivility and innuendo that marked the campaigns.

The Bullock and Gianforte camps traded sharp attacks against one another during the campaign, with GOP lawmakers joining in against Bullock.

Gianforte released a statement in which he said he knew taking on an incumbent would be a challenge, but he believes in the potential of the state and that hasn’t changed.

7:50 a.m.

Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock has won a second term by beating Republican challenger and software entrepreneur Greg Gianforte.

Bullock’s win keeps the Democrats’ 12-year hold on the governor’s office for another four years in the conservative-leaning state.

The race between Bullock and Gianforte was close and expensive. Gianforte spent more than $5.6 million of his own money on his campaign.

But voters decided to stick with Bullock in a close election that was not called until Wednesday morning, more than 12 hours after the polls closed.

His campaign emphasized the successes of his first term and cast Gianforte as an out-of-touch millionaire whose proposed tax cuts would have harmed the state.

Democrats have held the office since former Gov. Brian Schweitzer was elected in 2004.

The state’s voters typically favor Republican presidential candidates and regularly elect Republican majorities to the state Legislature.

___

2:30 a.m.

Montana’s race for governor is still too close to call after a night that saw Republicans poised to pick up multiple statewide offices.

Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock and Republican challenger Greg Gianforte were neck-and-neck early Wednesday.

Gianforte, a Bozeman software entrepreneur making his first run for office, received strong support from rural voters in eastern Montana.

Bullock’s support came mainly from the state’s large cities in western Montana.

One statewide office, secretary of state, flipped from Democratic to Republican. GOP candidates were leading in two others now held by Democrats: secretary of state and auditor.

Republican Attorney General Tim Fox easily won re-election against former Democratic legislator Larry Jent.

In the U.S. House election, Rep. Ryan Zinke defeated Democratic challenger Denise Juneau.


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