Montana Public Radio

Bullock Enters U.S. Senate Race

Mar 9, 2020

Gov. Steve Bullock made a late entrance into Montana’s U.S. Senate race Monday. It’s a boost to Democrats’ efforts to gain ground and potentially win control of the Senate in the 2020 election.

Bullock launched his campaign after repeatedly saying he wasn't interested in the job.

Bullock announced his run for the U.S. Senate just hours before the deadline for candidates to file for the 2020 ballot. The governor signed the paperwork to challenge first-term Republican Senator Steve Daines with this family standing next to him.

"As a family we’ve been talking about this quite a bit as of late. And it has been as of late. And we decided that I could either wish that Washington worked more like Montana, or that we could try and do something about it."

Bullock faced growing calls to enter the Senate race after dropping out of the Democratic presidential primary late last year.

Former President Barack Obama and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer separately met with Bullock earlier this year as Bullock insisted he wasn’t interested in running for the U.S. Senate.

Democrats need to pick up a net total of four seats to win control of the chamber.

Lisa Bullock says the family considered what her husband’s run for the U.S. Senate would mean for time spent with Bullock's eldest daughter, who will soon leave for college.

"Campaigns are hard on families. I think it’s been hard in the last three for our children to witness what has been published and what has been said about their father."

At least four of Bullock’s would-be Democratic primary challengers have dropped out of the race, citing the two-term governor's entrance into it.

"The big difference with Steve Bullock is name recognition," says Eric Raile, an associate professor of political science at Montana State University Bozeman.

Raile says Bullock’s entrance into the race makes it more competitive for Democrats to try and unseat Daines. He adds that both Daines and Bullock are popular elected officials in Montana.

Daines Campaign Manager Shane Scanlon wrote in a statement that Daines will win the race because he’s "always on Montana’s side fighting for more high-paying jobs, against big government and defending Montanans’ way of life."

Spenser Merwin, executive Director of the Montana GOP, says Bullock is "nothing more than Chuck Schumer’s Puppet."