Yet another Democratic contender has entered the race for the 2020 presidential election, this time from red state of Montana, where Gov. Steve Bullock won re-election in 2016 at the same time President Trump handily won the state by 20 percentage points.
Bullock, 53, announced his candidacy Tuesday, touting his ability to work with Republicans while intending to take on campaign finance reform on his first day should he win the White House, he told Reuters in an interview after the announcement.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is the 22nd Democrat to enter the 2020 presidential race, focusing his campaign message on being a Democrat elected in a largely Republican state. https://t.co/cjqo9lTLmP
— NPR Politics (@nprpolitics) May 14, 2019
“There’s only one person in the field that’s actually won in a state that Donald Trump won, and there’s only one that’s gotten progressive things done in a state that’s controlled by Republicans,” he said.
Bullock faces an uphill battle in a field of nearly two-dozen Democratic candidates vying for the party’s nomination. He lacks national name recognition, has barely registered a blip in opinion polls, and likely won’t have the fundraising muster of contenders like former Vice President Joe Biden, or Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, or even former Texas Rep. Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, who each raised more than $6 million in the first 24 hours after announcing his candidacy.
“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,” Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said. https://t.co/52uGLlWkgR
— NBCWashington (@nbcwashington) May 14, 2019
Taking a page from John McCain’s playbook in the 2000 election, Bullock is making campaign finance reform a key issue after signing an executive order requiring government contractors to report campaign contributions. He announced his candidacy from a Helena high school classroom where he vowed to sign a similar executive order should he win the White House.
Also like McCain, Bullock is likely seeking moderate voters who may feel that both parties are becoming too extreme.
The two-term governor characterizes himself as a uniter at a time when the Democratic party is increasingly torn between a growing left-leaning wing of the party, and a more centrist wing, which incidentally also is quickly becoming divided along generational lines, according to an op-ed in The Atlantic last week by Hoover Institute senior fellow and former Harvard professor, Niall Ferguson.
To give everyone a fair shot, we must do more than defeat Donald Trump. We have to defeat the corrupt system that keeps people like him in power, and we need a fighter who's done it before.
That's why I'm running for President. Join our team: https://t.co/TZXr9AcDr7 pic.twitter.com/XZ0LPUbtBx
— Steve Bullock (@GovernorBullock) May 14, 2019
“Our politics are dominated by those who can write the biggest checks,” Bullock said.
Bullock might be an intriguing candidate in a red state that has a Democratic senator, John Tester. In 2008, McCain carried the state by just 2.38 points, edging Barack Obama by 11,700 votes. However, in the last two presidential elections, Montana has been dominated by Republican nominees.
“[Bullock has] proven you can do these solid things and get reelected in a state that went solidly for Donald Trump, and probably still will today,” Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, a Montana native who now works in Washington, told Politico in October 2017.
An interesting dynamic in the Democratic primaries might be how Bullock fares against Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado — moderates with strong records in the same region.