HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock announced Tuesday that he is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, distinguishing himself among nearly two dozen candidates as the field’s only statewide elected official to win a state that President Donald Trump carried in 2016.
The 53-year-old governor is running as a centrist Democrat who has advanced party values while navigating a Republican legislature and a GOP-leaning electorate. Bullock made his candidacy official in a video that capped months of speculationfueled by his political activity in Iowa, which hosts the nation’s first presidential caucus next February.
“What we need to do is get the country back on track, make sure everybody has a fair shot at success,” he told The Associated Press in an interview. “I’ve been able to get meaningful things done that impact the people of my state. I believe there’ll be a strong reception for that.”
His immediate challenge is corralling enough donors and support in the polls to qualify for the first Democratic debate in June. He told reporters during an appearance at the high school from which he graduated that he hopes to do that over the next month, but he’ll still be out campaigning even if he doesn’t make the cut.
“The debate stage would be lacking a bit if they didn’t have somebody who actually got reelected in a state where Donald Trump won,” he said. “I’ll do the best I can to get there.”
More broadly, as a white Trump-state Democrat, Bullock could face an uphill battle to break through in a primary that has been defined by former Vice President Joe Biden’s dominance and the progressive energy of a diverse party base.
Bullock plans a two-tiered argument.
He pitches himself as the rare Democrat who can win over rural and small-town voters — a constituency that helped Trump flip key battleground states in 2016. Bullock has done it three times in Montana, where Democrat Hillary Clinton got just 36 percent of the vote against Trump.
“We need somebody who can win back some of these places we lost in ’16,” Bullock said, adding, “Voters want somebody that they believe can win, that will fight for them.”
Yet Bullock emphasizes that he governs with mainstream Democratic priorities. He has expanded Medicaid insurancecoverage to nearly a tenth of Montana’s 1.06 million residents as part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act and embraced marriage equality for same-sex couples. He’s used executive orders to extend LGBTQ rights and protect net neutrality, and he’s vetoed gun bills backed by the National Rifle Association and measures that would have severely limited abortion access.
He also has spent years advocating for tighter regulation of money in politics, unsuccessfully challenging the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling as attorney general and then, as governor, signing a law that requires dark-money groups operating in the state to disclose their donors. Last year, he sued the Internal Revenue Service over a Trump administration rule change to stop requiring the disclosure of donor information from certain nonprofit organizations.
He’s aligned himself with conservationists, environmental activists and outdoorsmen by prioritizing public land use and conservation — a key issue in many Western states. But he’s also been at odds with them at times as the leader of an energy-producing state, such as when he criticized the Obama administration for “moving the goalposts” by proposing stringent carbon dioxide emission reductions under the now-defunct Clean Power Plan.
His time in office has largely been scandal-free, with the occasional hiccup. Earlier this year, Bullock apologized for not doing enough to warn others about a longtime aide who was accused of sexually harassing women while working first for the Democratic Governors Association while Bullock was chairman and later for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration.
Bullock’s attendance at a Paul McCartney concert in Missoula in 2014 also opened the door for critics to scrutinize his use of a state plane that resulted in his having to reimburse $7,000 for flights that mixed official business and campaign trips. The state’s campaign regulator determined Bullock’s 2016 reelection campaign violated state law by failing to make timely expense reports related to use of the plane.
Bullock joins Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper as the only state executives vying for the nomination.
The Montana governor is likely among the final Democrats to join one of the biggest presidential fields in modern memory. De Blasio is expected to announce his decision this week on whether to run for the White House. And Stacey Abrams of Georgia continues to indulge speculation that she could scramble the field with a late launch this summer or fall.
Although he is not a household name, Bullock is well known and well regarded in Democratic circles beyond Montana. He currently chairs the bipartisan National Governors Association.
Some Democrats had hoped he’d challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Steve Daines in 2020, but Bullock insisted Tuesday that he is focused solely on the presidential race.
“This isn’t for me a vanity project,” Bullock said. “I wouldn’t be getting into it if I didn’t think I had something really significant to offer.”
Bullock and his wife, Lisa, have three children, ages 16, 14 and 12, who attend the same Helena public schools where the governor was educated. Steve Bullock graduated from Claremont McKenna College in California and Columbia Law School. He spent part of his legal career in Montana state government and had stints at law firms in Washington, D.C., and New York, and his own private practice in Helena, before being elected attorney general in 2008. He won the governor’s race with 48 percent of the vote in 2012 and was reelected with 50.2 percent of the vote the same day that Trump won 56.2 percent of presidential ballots.
One Moore Time: Roy Moore Does It Again
During a rambling, aggrieved speech in which he name-checked Robert Mueller, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and George Soros, Moore—who infamously lost the 2017 special election to Jones—painted himself as the victim of a global smear campaign who would nevertheless buck the overwhelming opposition to his candidacy and win in 2020.
Roy Moore announces he will run again for US Senate seat in Alabama: “Can I win? Yes, I can win. Not only can I, they know I can. That’s why there's such opposition” https://t.co/GmKtDI1I7a pic.twitter.com/4CjcRkCMS6— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) June 20, 2019
Claiming that he’d like to focus on “more personal contact” with voters this time around (yikes), Moore reiterated his claims of innocence in the face of multiple allegations that he’d preyed on young women during the 1970s.
Moore saved much of his venom for the establishment Republican Party, which he blamed for pushing President Trump to oppose his second Senate run. In late May, Trump publicly urged Moore not to run; he staunchly supported Moore’s candidacy in 2017, even after multiple women accused Moore of sexual assault and harassment.
Now that Moore has officially declared his intent to run again, all eyes will turn to former Attorney General and—more pertinently—former Alabama senator Jeff Sessions, who has been reportedly thinking about recapturing his old seat.
“Sessions, I don’t think, has ruled [running for his old seat] out,” Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby told the Washington Post, when asked about the possibility that Sessions may join the Republican primary. “I’ve talked to him about it. I think if he ran, he would be a formidable candidate, formidable.”
In addition to the allegations of sexual assault, Moore’s 2017 campaign was punctuated by rampant homophobia, bizarre philo-semitism, and at least one instance of a burnished firearm. He has since gone on to sue comedian Sacha Baron Cohen after Cohen mocked him during a taping of his Who is America? for Showtime.
Reporting By Splinter News
A “Schock For Congress?”: Aaron Schock Possibly Making New Run For Congress
Scandal-ridden former Republican representative, Aaron Schock, may be planning to run for Congress again.
A Statement of Organization was filed last week with the Federal Election Commission for the “Schock for Congress” campaign, LGBTQNation reported.
Schock, 37, is listed as the campaign treasurer upon the documents, even though the campaign reportedly has no funds.
The politician served as a US Representative from Illinois from 2009 to 2015. However he resigned after being accused of misusing campaign and public funds.
He was also the subject of a congressional ethics investigation and was indicted by a federal grand jury.
Federal prosecutors dropped charges earlier this year in exchange for paying $110,000 in restitution and taxes.
At the time, the Republican told CBS News that he hadn’t ruled out the possibility of returning to politics at some point in the future.
‘At 37-years-old, I don’t think I’ll ever say never,” said Schock. He added that he had “enjoyed being out of politics the last four years.’
Schock has proved a controversial figure among the LGBTI community. While in office, he campaigned against a number of issues including gays in the military, marriage equality, and LGBTI hate crimes.
However, although not openly gay, photographs have been widely circulated apparently showing Schock making out with a man in public while putting his hand down the man’s shorts.
(Reporting by Gay Star News)
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