Montana Gov. Bullock enters presidential race

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) said Tuesday he will join the already-crowded race for the White House with an overt appeal to voters who are most desperate to kick President Trump out of office.
In a video posted online Tuesday morning, Bullock painted himself as the most electable candidate in the field, and the only one who has won statewide office three times at the same time Republican presidential nominees carried his state.
{mosads}”As a Democratic governor of a state Trump won by 20 points, I don’t have the luxury of just talking to people who agree with me,” Bullock said in the video. “We need to defeat Donald Trump in 2020, and defeat the corrupt system that lets campaign money drown out the people’s voice.”
Bullock will cast himself as the Democrat who can reconnect the party with rural voters who have fled to the Republican Party in recent years and as a champion for campaign finance reform.
As the state’s attorney general, he defended Montana’s ban on corporate spending in elections after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC ruling. As governor, he spearheaded an overhaul of campaign finance reform in a state that already has some of the lowest contribution limits in the country. In 2018, he signed an executive order requiring state contractors to disclose contributions to so-called dark money groups.
Bullock faces long odds and a short window in which to raise money from enough donors to qualify for debates that are just over 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 Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign and former Sen. John Edwards’s (D-N.C.) 2004 White House run, will take on a formal role as national senior adviser. Sharon Paez, who worked for Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), will serve as Bullock’s senior political adviser.
Jennifer Palmieri, who directed communications in both the Obama White House and for Hillary Clinton’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.
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 Polis’s (D) winning campaign in 2018, will run Bullock’s race. Galia Slayden, who directed communications for Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) in 2018, will reprise the role for Bullock this time around.
Bullock has already spent eight days in Iowa meeting voters, and he plans another stop in the first-in-the-nation caucus state this week. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller (D), a Bullock mentor, will play a role in his campaign, sources said.
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 Trump won the state by 21 points.
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 the 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.
Read more from The Hill:
Tags 2020 campaign Al Gore Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Jared Polis Montana Tim Kaine

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