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Trump-era Interior Secretary Zinke wins Montana U.S. House Republican primary

Trump-era Interior Secretary Zinke wins Montana U.S. House Republican primary © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: US Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke arrives at the US Capitol prior to the service for former President George H. W. Bush in Washington, DC, USA, 03 December 2018. Shawn Thew/Pool via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Former U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who served under Donald Trump and resigned in 2019 amid an ethics probe, won the Republican Party nomination for the 1st district U.S. House of Representatives seat in Montana, Edison Research projected on Thursday.

Zinke, who previously served in the House before joining the Trump administration, fended off challenges from four other Republicans in Tuesday’s vote. He resigned under intense scrutiny of his use of security details, chartered flights and a real estate deal, though he repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Zinke will face attorney Monica Tranel, who won the Democratic primary for the House seat, in the Nov. 8 general election. Zinke will be heavily favored to win after Trump defeated Democrat Joe Biden in Montana by 16 percentage points in 2020.

In the Republican primary, Zinke defeated his closest challenger, former state lawmaker Albert Olszewski, 41.7% to 39.8% with 99% of the estimated vote counted, according to Edison Research.

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