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Steve Bullock announces presidential run

Montana governor touts record of winning in a Trump state and taking on dark campaign money

Montana Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock won re-election in 2016 while Donald Trump was winning his state in a landslide. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Montana Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock won re-election in 2016 while Donald Trump was winning his state in a landslide. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock became the 22nd major Democratic candidate for president when he announced his entry into the race on Tuesday.

The two-term governor, who won re-election in 2016 while Donald Trump was winning the state by 20 points, made his announcement in a video that touted his electability and promised to take dark money out of politics.

“We need to defeat Donald Trump in 2020 and defeat the corrupt system that lets campaign money drown out the people’s voice, so we can finally make good on the promise of a fair shot for everyone,” Bullock says in the video.

Bullock has pushed several Democratic policies through his state’s Republican-controlled legislature, like expanding Medicaid coverage in the state twice and some of the strictest campaign finance laws in the country.

“I don’t have the luxury of just talking to people who agree with me,” Bullock says in the video.

Democrats had pushed for Bullock to run against Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines next year, but Bullock told the Montana Standard last year that he wasn’t sure he would “find being a senator that compelling.”

Bullock centered his 2020 announcement on his fight against unrestrained corporate spending on elections.

As attorney general, Bullock defended the state’s 1912 law restricting corporate election spending in the courts when a pro-fossil fuel 501(c)4 nonprofit called Western Tradition Partnership sued to overturn it in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Bullock lost that battle in the Supreme Court. As governor, Bullock signed into law the Disclose Act, which beefed up reporting requirements for political committees and barred coordination between political campaigns and outside groups, according to the Montana Free Press. In 2018, Bullock signed an executive order implementing new disclosure requirements for government contractors. 

On his campaign website, Bullock proposes implementing these measures nationally. 

Under the banner “One Big Idea,” Bullock writes: “On Day One, he will sign an executive order requiring every company to disclose every dollar they spend or contribute to influence our elections if they want to do business with the largest contractor in the nation — the federal government.”

Bullock also proposes a national Disclose Act and working towards overturning the Citizens United decision.

Even while fighting undisclosed political money, Bullock has raised millions for his political action committee, Big Sky Values PAC, which accepts contributions from limited liability companies, and for the Democratic Governors Association when he served as chair in 2015, according to the Center for Public Integrity.

Bullock said in a radio interview that he sees a path to the party’s presidential nomination for a centrist, and that as a Democrat who has forged success in a conservative state, he can fill that role.

“Of the field of 20-some I’m the only one that actually won in a Trump state when Trump was on the ballot,” Bullock said in an interview with Montana Public Radio Tuesday.

Bullock worked to pass a Medicaid expansion program called the Health and Economic Livelihood Partnership (HELP) Act though a Republican legislature, according to the Great Falls Tribune.

Bullock has not endorsed “Medicare for All.”

“We all know we’re probably the only industrialized nation that doesn’t provide health care. There’s a lot of ways to get there,” Bullock said in a 2017 interview

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