Montana Gov. Steve Bullock crouches down Monday at Greene Bean Coffee to talk with Jean Tucker, of Jefferson, during a campaign stop. ANDREW McGINN | JEFFERSON HERALD

Bullock makes case for 2020

Montana governor makes local stop

By ANDREW MCGINN

a.mcginn@beeherald.com

Oh, the things you overhear at the coffee shop.

“It makes me even wonder why some of them are running,” a woman was overheard Monday at Greene Bean Coffee, talking about the nearly two dozen (or maybe now three dozen) Democrats running for president in 2020. “Is it for their resume?”

Surely she wasn’t talking about Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, who brought his campaign for president to Greene Bean on Monday morning. (She was wearing a Bullock 2020 sticker, so she probably wasn’t talking about him, but who knows; Iowa Nice and all.)

Bullock, the two-term Democratic governor of Big Sky Country, was making his third trip to Iowa since announcing his candidacy for president.

With all of them jockeying for position ahead of the Iowa Caucuses on Feb. 3, Democratic presidential hopefuls alone this summer may very well pick the Iowa State Fair clean of corn dogs.

Jokes aside, Bullock, 53, effectively made his case in Jefferson on Monday for why he stands the best shot of taking back the White House for Democrats.

“We have to win back some of the places we lost,” said Bullock, clad in blue jeans and brown cowboy boots.

His home state of Montana is one of those places.

Donald Trump carried Montana by 20 points in 2016 — the same year Bullock won re-election over Republican Greg Gianforte (the same Greg Gianforte who later body slammed a newspaper reporter to President Trump’s glee).

Bullock, who presides over a state with a Republican-controlled legislature, feels he’s uniquely qualified to bridge the nation’s deepening red-blue divide.

The race to unseat Trump will be decided, not on the coasts, but in places like Montana, he said.

Bullock touted some of his accomplishments as a blue governor in a red state: Medicaid expansion; “record investment” in education; increased investment in higher education, not to mention a freeze on college tuition.

Not surprisingly, he’s also had to wield the power of veto, blocking attacks on women’s health care, public lands and workers’ rights.

“I run into so many people who say this economy isn’t working for them,” Bullock said. “We’re working a lot harder and making less.”

He noted that counties are losing businesses, and that a generation of union workers has been replaced by independent contractors.

The former Montana attorney general, Bullock is particularly concerned by the influx of dark money into the nation’s elections in the wake of Citizens United, the controversial Supreme Court decision that equated corporations with people.

Above all, Bullock feels that the country is better than the current occupant of the White House.

“We expect more from preschoolers than we do from this president,” said Bullock, a father of three.

Our kids are listening and watching, he said, to the “Twitter tantrums” and “temper tirades.”

The country is more divided than ever.

“This president has poured gasoline on the fire,” Bullock said.

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