Touting his ability to pass a progressive agenda in a conservative state, Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana announced his candidacy for president on Tuesday.
Bullock, who won re-election to a second term in 2016 at the same time as PresidentTrump carried Montana by 20 percentage points, highlighted in a video launching his White House campaign that “I don’t have the luxury of just talking to people who agree with me.”
“I go all across our state’s 147,000 square miles and look for common ground to get things done,” Bullock emphasized. “That’s how I was able to bring Democrats and Republicans together to fight dark money and pass one of the strongest campaign finance laws in the country.”
Bullock becomes the latest Democratic candidate in an historically large field that is now well past 20 White House contenders.
The governor also spotlighted that he worked across the aisle in a state where Republicans dominate the legislature to pass another progressive item – Medicaid expansion.
In an interview with Fox News last summer, Bullock stressed that the law had reduced the percentage of those uninsured in Montana from 20 percent to 7 percent. Last week, Bullock signed a bill to extend the program another six years.
Noting his humble beginnings, the governor said in his video that “I never thought I’d be running for president. Raised by a single mom, we struggled just to get by.”
The 53-year old former Montana attorney general lamented that the opportunity no longer exists for most children to have a “fair shot to do better than their parents.”
“That’s why 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,” he added.
“This is the fight of our time. It's been the fight of my career,” Bullock declared. “I'm running for President and with your help, we will take our democracy back.”
Later Tuesday, Bullock will formally kick off his campaign at an event at his alma mater, Helena High School.
Bullock, who is little known outside of Montana, faces long odds to capture the Democratic presidential nomination. And his late entry into the race means he has little time to raise campaign cash from enough donors to qualify for the first primary debate, which is just a month and a half away.
While he’s competing against many rivals who enjoy much stronger name recognition and are known as prolific fundraisers, Bullock’s year in 2015 as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association did allow him to build relationships with his party’s donor class. He’s currently chair of the non-partisan National Governors Association.
It appears Bullock may concentrate much of his time and attention on Iowa, which votes first in the caucus and primary calendar. On Thursday he heads to the Hawkeye state for a three-day, eight-county swing. It’s Bullock’s seventh trip to the state over the past year. In that same time period, Bullock’s made one visit to New Hampshire, the state that holds the first primary in the nominating calendar.
Bullock announced that Jen Ridder, who ran now-Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’ successful 2018 victory, will serve as his campaign manager and that Galia Slayen, who directed communications for now-Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s 2018 election, will reprise the role for his campaign.
In another sign of Iowa’s significance, Bullock also named a state director and press secretary in the state.