Montana Public Radio

Mike Cooney 2020 Election Questionnaire

May 21, 2020

Montana Public Radio is gathering information on all statewide primary candidates to publish as a resource for our audience. We asked all the statewide candidates to respond to the following questions via email, limiting their answers to 300 words per question. These are their unedited responses.

Gubernatorial candidate Mike Cooney:

Mike Cooney
Credit Montana Governor's Office

What is your full name as it will appear on ballots?

Mike Cooney

What is your age?

65

Where do you live?

Helena, MT

What is your education background?

Bachelor of Arts - Political Science, University of Montana

What is your current occupation?

Lieutenant Governor

Why are you running for this particular public office?

I’ve spent my life fighting for the people of Montana. Our next Governor is going to face new challenges and it will take tested leadership and experience to tackle them head on. I know how to bring people together to get things done without compromising my values.

Montanans have trusted me to get the job done and I have a proven record of results. They know where I stand. We deserve a leader in the Governor’s Office who will fight for our values and for hardworking Montana families, not special interests or big corporations.

Serving as Governor Bullock’s Lieutenant. Governor, we’ve made real progress for the people of Montana: increasing access to healthcare through Medicaid expansion, protecting our public lands, clean air and clean water, growing our economy and supporting good-paying jobs, making record investments in our public education system, standing up to dark money and special interests, and leveling the playing field for hard-working middle-class Montana families.

This election is protecting all of that progress, building on it, and tackling the new and unprecedented challenges that lie ahead. Montana is my home. It’s a place with values worth protecting and a way of life worth fighting for. There’s simply too much at stake for me to sit on the sidelines.

What makes you qualified to hold this position?

I’ve spent my entire life fighting for the people of Montana: as a State Representative from Butte, as Secretary of State for twelve years, and as President of the State Senate. Now I have the honor of serving as Governor Steve Bullock’s Lieutenant Governor.

Now more than ever, in these challenging and unprecedented times, we need a leader we can trust to fight for us and stand up for our Montana values. A leader with unmatched experience who can bring people together to rebuild our economy, increase critical access to healthcare, invest in our public education system and protect our access to public lands.

Montanans have trusted me to serve in their best interests nearly my entire adult life. I’m proud to have the support of thousands of Montanans—including our state’s Democratic leaders Governor Steve Bullock and Senator Jon Tester—in all 56 counties across the state. We’ve built a strong statewide campaign with the resources, the energy and the momentum Democrats need to keep our Montana values, and our Democratic values, in the Governor’s Office.

With House Democrat Leader Casey Schreiner by my side, we have the experience, the relationships and the proven record of fighting for our Democratic values to hit the ground running on day one.

What are three policy issues that distinguish you from your opponent(s)?

I am the only Democrat in the race who has beaten Congressman Gianforte as part of the ticket in 2016 with Governor Steve Bullock.

Healthcare: Governor Bullock and I fought to reauthorize Medicaid expansion, which provides healthcare for 1 in 10 Montanans and stability to rural hospitals. I’ve announced a bipartisan plan to lower the cost of prescription drugs and proposals to increase rural and mental healthcare and I’m committed to increasing access to care, not taking it away.

Congressman Gianforte voted against protecting patients with pre-existing conditions and lowering the cost of prescription drugs. Gianforte supports the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which has protected coverage for 152,000 Montanans with pre-existing conditions and expanded coverage for nearly 100,000 Montanans.

Public lands: as Secretary of State and member of the State’s Land Board for 12 years, I’ve worked to increase access to public lands and protected our rights to hunt, fish and recreate. I’ve pledged to fully fund the successful Habitat Montana program, which protects and enhances wildlife habitat across the state.

Congressman Gianforte not only personally sued to block public access to a popular fishing access site, he has voted to gut the Land and Wildlife Conservation Fund and introduced numerous bills in Congress that would strip protections from public lands.

Money in politics: I am the only candidate in the race for governor who has rejected dark money, corporate PAC contributions and self-financing. I’ve spent a career in public service representing Montanans, not special interest groups.

Congressman Gianforte, the wealthiest member of Congress, tried to buy the election in 2016 by spending millions of dollars of his own money, voted in favor of rolling back financial regulations on large financial institutions and voted against bills requiring corporations to disclose their political spending.

What are the greatest issues facing Montana that have gone unsolved by elected officials and how would you address them?

We’ve got a heck of a lot of work ahead of us to protect our Montana values and bring more opportunity to Montana. As Governor I’m committed to working with Democrats and Republicans to:

· Bring down the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs and holding big pharmaceutical companies accountable,

· Tackle the threat of climate change to our public lands, clean air and clean water,

· Keep dark money and out-of-state special interests out of politics and out of our elections,

· Grow our economy and support more good-paying jobs for Montanans—in rural and urban areas and on tribal reservations,

· Increase access to public lands and protecting them from special-interest attempts to sell them off to the highest bidder,

· Continue to invest in our world-class public education system, including a publicly-funded pre-K program,

· Support Montana farmers and ranchers, invest in value-added agriculture and continue to open up new opportunities for Montana-made products overseas, and

· Foster an inclusive and open Montana that values and protects the dignity and rights of LGBTQ+ Montanans.

I also know wealthy special interests continue to have too much influence in our politics and there are powerful forces trying to move Montana in the wrong direction. As Governor I will use the power of my veto pen to stop any and all attacks on a woman’s right to choose, on workers’ rights and on voting rights and our democracy.

These are the values I’ve held my entire career and the priorities I will bring with me to the Governor’s Office. I know we can move Montana forward and create more opportunities for future generations because I’ve done it. I’m ready to hit the ground running on day one of serving as Montana’s next Governor.