Democratic candidate for Montana Governor current Attorney General Steve Bullock seems all but certain so sew up his party’s nomination on this upcoming June Primary Day.
Bullock leads all gubernatorial candidates from any party in fundraising. But he has spent very little of that cash.
His primary opponent, Heather Margolis, is seen by many to be a token primary challenger.
Bullock himself considers the campaign in full swing.
“We’re going full bore, I mean everybody’s workin’ real hard and keepin’ movin,” he said.
Bullock yard signs have been going up in Helena and other communities. The campaign has yet to release any Television ads yet.
He says his campaign had nothing to do with Heather Margolis’s last second gubernatorial bid, but during our interview he speaks as if he’s already won the Primary.
Meanwhile, candidates in the Republican primary are fighting hard for their party’s nomination.
Many are releasing their vision for the state, their jobs plans. Bullock really hasn’t.
“Yeah, and I don’t know I’ve seen a lot of overall plans out of the Republican side,” Bullock said, “not much of substance a lot of which is probably noise and at the end of the day I think Montana is at a crossroads and the decisions that we’re gonna make are going to define the kind of Montana we have. We’ll be focusing on jobs, doing more additional work for value added to make sure more of what we produce in Montana stays in Montana, looking at the overall economy. We’ve also been talking a lot about education and some of the things that are needed there.”
“If people are going to the polls and they vote for Steve Bullock, are they voting for a continuation of a Montana that looks very much like it did under Governor Schweitzer?” I asked.
“Well, I think in part. Look, there’s some good things going on in Montana and I want to continue pieces of that.”
He does believe there are areas for improvement. Bullock wants to work on education—investing more in early childhood education and our two year colleges. And he wants to look into how the state can better help small business and tech startups.
Republicans have attacked Bullock for some positions he’s taken on natural resource development.
They point to his vote on the state land board against leasing Eastern Montana’s Otter Creek coal tracts. Bullock says he has always supported selling Otter Creek Coal, but he thought Montana wasn’t asking for enough money.
“I’ve said from the start there’s a number of things we need to do when looking at resource development,” he said. “One, not giving our resources away. Two, make sure to follow and actually comply with environmental laws to make sure it’s done right and three on the backend of it to make sure that reclamation occurs.”
Conservative pundits also attack Bullock’s position on the Affordable Care Act. Bullock did not join a lawsuit filed by many other state Attorneys General against the national healthcare law.
“We’re in a good fiscal position and we didn’t get there by joining lawsuits where our involvement wouldn’t make any difference. So all I would have done by joining that lawsuit is cost taxpayers dollars,” I said.
He says the states need to wait for a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court on the law. Bullock does believe the Affordable Care Act has positives, “but no one would say the affordable care act is perfect and I don’t think that would be the case from Democrats or Republicans.”
Bullock does not have a page on his website listing his stances on issues, like many candidates.
On social issues, Bullock is pro gun rights, pro-choice. He is in favor of the death penalty. His stance on gay marriage has angered some in his Democratic base.
“Do you support Gay Marriage?” I asked
“I mean, really the constitution until anybody even makes a proposal on that it’s a non-issue in Montana from that perspective. I do support legislative measures to try to change that, but the Constitution is what it is right now,” Bullock said. He does support outlawing discrimination toward same-sex couples.
Steve Bullock says there is still a long time left in this election. He says voters will learn a lot more about him and his goals for the state.
“The campaign goes on a long time and we’ll roll out a full jobs plan. Certainly not needing to do that now, I don’t think,” he said.
Perhaps not until after the primary.