Montana Gov. Steve Bullock Thinks He Can Probably Beat Tim Ryan,  Other Tim Ryan

2020 democratic primary
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock Thinks He Can Probably Beat Tim Ryan,  Other Tim Ryan

Oh great, another white man has joined the Democratic primary race; we guess political powerhouse Tim Ryan didn't scare them all off? The latest candidate -- the 22nd, by the way -- is Steve Bullock, the governor of Montana. He's term-limited out of his job in 2020 so why not run for president? He has to keep food on the table, and presidential candidacies are a growth industry.

Let's check out Bullock's campaign announcement video and confirm whether he loves America and wants to give everyone a "fair shot."

OK, Bullock has a pretty good story here. As Montana's attorney general, he personally fought to keep the state's election laws the way they were prior to passage of Citizens United. When he lost that battle, he ran for another higher office, which is kinda Beto of him, but he did good stuff as governor. He forced the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion through a Republican legislature, provided access to health care for thousands of extra people in a state of hundreds. He's protected public lands. Last year, he was the first governor to sign an executive order restoring net neutrality rules. He managed all this in a deep red state.

Money in politics is Bullock's signature issue. He sounds like a common Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez when he condemns how "dark money" has "poisoned the political system." In 2015, he signed the DISCLOSE Act, which shines a disinfecting light on "dark money" groups, requiring election influencers to reveal fundraising and campaign spending.

Bullock's 11-year-old nephew was shot and killed by a classmate in 1994. This tragic loss didn't immediately make Bullock a crusader for gun control, but his position on the issue has greatly improved in the past few years. He now supports universal background checks, magazine size limits, and red flag laws. He's even open to a ban on certain semiautomatic weapons, which he rejected a decade ago.

So, Bullock is a crusading liberal(ish) governor from a state Trump carried by 20 points in 2016. Is he the white guy who can beat Donald Trump? That's what "very concerned" Democrats want to know. The big problem for Bullock and a slight damper on his "electability" argument is that no one knows who he is. He was even featured on a NBC news segment called "How to Run for President When No One Knows Who You Are," which Bullock probably found helpful -- he took notes and everything. But it's a little demoralizing.

During the segment, rural Montanans were caught on film doing rural things we can't identify. They praised Bullock's ability to connect with otherwise very conservative voters. Unfortunately, one of them, Katie Mumford, laughed in a reporter's face when asked about a potential Bullock presidential run. It wasn't that she opposed him politically. She just thought he'd get his ass whipped.

REPORTER: You think he could take on Donald Trump?

MUMFORD: (sighs for a very long time) Uh... no. I don't think so. Trump is a little bit of bulldozer, you know? He's powerful... powerful guy.

Trump has great spokespeople, but it's amazing that he's managed to convince normal, everyday Americans that he's Smaug from The Hobbit. We personally like Bullock's chances more than some others in the race. He has a record more extensive and impressive than appearances on Jimmy Fallon. John McCain just narrowly defeated Barack Obama in Montana by a measly 2 points. Bullock probably has a better chance of flipping Montana than Beto O'Rourke or Pete Buttigieg have carrying their home states.

But honestly, we're a little down on Bullock because we and everyone else wish he were running for Senate instead. He could actually win. We need Democrats in the Senate. Mitch McConnell is arguably a greater threat to democracy than Trump because at least Trump is term limited. If we can't kick McConnell out of the Senate, we should at least make him minority leader. Instead, everyone who has a shot at unseating Republicans in red states is running for president instead. That's not how this is supposed to work.

[ New York Times ]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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