Bullock hires senior staffers ahead of likely presidential run

Bullock hires senior staffers ahead of likely presidential run
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) is hiring senior staffers in advance of an almost certain presidential campaign to be launched in the coming days.
 
While many of his Democratic rivals have touted their progressive bona fides, Bullock will kick off his campaign with a direct appeal to voters who are less concerned about ideological purity and are keen to beat President TrumpDonald John TrumpFeinstein, Iranian foreign minister had dinner amid tensions: report The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Harris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign MORE in 2020.
 
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Bullock would be the only Democratic candidate in the race to have won a reliably Republican state — twice.
 
He will cast himself as the Democrat who can reconnect the party with rural voters who have fled to the Republican Party in recent years.
 
Bullock faces long odds and a short window in which to raise money from enough donors to qualify for the first debates, which are a little more than a month away.
 
He is little known outside Montana, and he will compete against far more prolific fundraisers for donor dollars.
 
Still, he has relationships inside wealthy donor communities. Bullock ran the Democratic Governors Association in 2015, and he is the current chairman of the National Governors Association.
 
And Bullock has quietly amassed an early stable of well-known operatives who will support his campaign.
 
Nick Baldick, a veteran of Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreAnother VPOTUS tries for POTUS: What does history tell us? Several factors have hindered 'next up' presidential candidates in recent years Montana Gov. Bullock enters presidential race MORE's 2000 campaign and former Sen. John Edwards's (D-N.C.) 2004 campaign, will take on a formal role as national senior adviser.
 
Sharon Páez, who worked for Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOvernight Defense: Iran worries dominate foreign policy talk | Pentagon reportedly to send WH plans for 10K troops in Mideast | Democrats warn Trump may push through Saudi arms sale | Lawmakers blast new Pentagon policy on sharing info Iraq War looms over Trump battle with Iran Senate passes bill to undo tax increase on Gold Star military families MORE (D-Va.) and former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), will serve as Bullock's senior political adviser.
 
Jennifer Palmieri, who directed communications in the Obama White House and for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHarris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign Nevada Senate passes bill that would give Electoral College votes to winner of national popular vote 2020 Dems break political taboos by endorsing litmus tests MORE's 2016 campaign, is acting as an informal adviser, a source close to Bullock's campaign confirmed.
 
Bullock has signed Michael Bocian and Margie Omero, partners at GBAO Strategies, as his pollsters, the source said.
 
Those big names will join a young roster of operatives who have already signed up to steer Bullock's campaign.
 
Jennifer Ridder, who managed Colorado Gov. Jared PolisJared Schutz PolisSchool awards honorary diploma to student killed in Colorado school shooting Colorado secretary of state bans employees from traveling to Alabama after abortion law Colorado governor marks day for teen who died in school shooting MORE's (D) winning campaign in 2018, will run Bullock's race. Galia Slayen, who directed communications for Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) in 2018, will reprise the role for Bullock.
 
Bullock may not be well known in Iowa, but he has begun laying the groundwork in the first-in-the-nation caucus state. He has spent eight days in Iowa over the last year at 15 events, often shepherded by Attorney General Tom Miller (D), a Bullock mentor who is likely to chair his Iowa campaign.
 
Bullock, 53, has served in state government for the last 11 years, first as attorney general and then for two terms as governor. He won reelection in 2016 with 50.3 percent of the vote at the same time President Trump won the state by 21 points.
 
In office, Bullock has had to deal with a Republican-dominated legislature. He spearheaded an overhaul of campaign finance reform in a state that already has some of the lowest contribution limits in the country, and he signed an executive order in 2018 requiring state contractors to disclose contributions to "dark money" groups. 
 
Last week, he signed a bill extending Medicaid expansion for another six years, though the bill included work requirements for recipients backed by Republican legislators.
 
He has had politics in his blood since his college days, when he ran for president of his freshman class at Claremont McKenna College.
 
During that campaign, he borrowed some sheep from a nearby animal husbandry school to make his pitch to voters.
 
"A Vote for Steve Will Be a Vote for Ewe," his signs read. Bullock won the race.
 
-- Updated at 5:21 p.m.