As Montana’s two-term Gov. Steve Bullock launches his campaign for the highest office in the land, we hope he will not lose sight of what got him here in the first place.
In a video announcing his presidential campaign and multiple interviews with Montana and national media, Bullock has hammered on the point that he was the only Democratic governor to be re-elected in a state Republican President Donald Trump won in 2016. Bullock is emphasizing his strong record of working with both Democrats and Republicans and says his ability to reach across the aisle is what sets him apart in a crowded field of about two dozen notable candidates hoping to win the Democratic nomination.
Meanwhile, Democrats are shifting farther to the left nationwide. A Pew Research poll found that the share of Democratic voters who describe themselves as liberal has been steadily increasing over the years, from only 28% in 2000 to 46% in 2018.
For Bullock to qualify for the first Democratic debates, he must have at least 1% support in three separate polls approved by the Democratic National Committee, or garner 65,000 unique campaign donors with at least 200 donors in 20 different states.
That means he will have to find ways to appeal to an increasingly liberal party base -- and we hope he doesn’t ostracize Montana in the process.
We’ve already seen some evidence of Bullock’s views shifting more to the left since he started exploring a run for president, specifically on the issue of guns. While he opposed universal background checks for firearms during his 2016 campaign for governor, he has since come to support them and has also called for a ban on assault rifles.
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We aren’t necessarily labeling his change of heart as bad or good, because it is important for our leaders to be able to adapt to our changing world. But we hope this is not a sign that he will become someone Montanans no longer recognize as he works to win over a different political base.
As Bullock has wisely said, we must behave like our children are watching -- because they are.
So is the rest of Montana.
And we believe our governor has much to offer our fractured country, as long as he sticks to his Montana values of cooperation and bipartisanship.
This is the opinion of the Independent Record editorial board.