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.
U.S. Senate candidate Steve Bullock:
What is your full name as it will appear on ballots?
What is your age?
Where do you live?
What is your education background?
I attended public schools in Helena and graduated from Helena High School in 1984. I received my undergraduate degree from Claremont McKenna College and my law degree from Columbia University Law School in New York.
What is your current occupation?
Governor of Montana
Why are you running for this particular public office?
Throughout my life, Montana has provided me with incredible opportunities. Growing up, the only reason I even knew there was a governor’s house in Montana was because I delivered newspapers to it. For the past seven years, I have had the honor of serving as governor, but I know there is still more work for us to do to leave Montana in an even better place for our children and grandchildren.
In Montana, we have come together –– Republicans and Democrats –– to protect and advance the people of our state. We stood up to special interests and beat dark money in our state elections. We expanded health care to 90,000 Montanans and helped save our rural hospitals. We invested in education, boosted job training programs, built up Montana’s infrastructure and defended Montanans’ access to public lands. And we balanced our state’s budget — with a rainy day fund and the state’s first-ever firefighting reserve.
Time and time again, we have been able to put politics aside for the good of the state. That’s how Washington should work too, and that’s why I am running for Senate. It’s time to make Washington work more like Montana.
What makes you qualified to hold this position?
I have the experience of serving the people of Montana in elected office and the proven track record of standing up for our state’s workers, families, and values.
At this moment, our country is facing an economic crisis. With the outbreak of COVID-19 disrupting nearly every aspect of our society, we are going to need strong, steady leadership in Washington to get our country back on track. In Montana, we were able to create jobs, balance our budget, cut taxes for every small business in the state, eliminate the business equipment tax for two-thirds of Montana businesses, and significantly increase the number of apprenticeships in the state –– all while setting aside reserves for a rainy day. Right now, our state’s small businesses and workers are hurting, and they deserve a Senator who knows how to get things done for them and will always look out for their interests –– not those of multinational corporations and special interests.
I’m running for the Senate to continue the work I started as Governor, including increasing access to health care, creating more good-paying jobs, ridding dark money from our elections, and keeping our public lands in public hands. I’m not afraid to take on the special interests and party leaders that have called the shots in Washington for too long and be an independent voice for Montana. I’m prepared to represent our state’s values in the Senate because I have fought for them my entire career.
What are three policy issues that distinguish you from your opponent(s)?
I am grateful for the amount that I have been able to accomplish during my time in office both as Attorney General and as Governor of Montana. When confronted with big issues facing our state, like the cost of health care or dark money influencing our elections, I have been able to bring people together to find common ground and move our state forward.
As our government grapples with how to help Americans recover from this pandemic, I will bring my experience of growing our economy and creating jobs for Montanans to bear in Washington. When I first took office as Governor, we were just beginning to emerge from the Great Recession. Since then, we’ve repealed or revised regulations and red tape, increased apprenticeships and investments in education across the state, and cut the business equipment tax for thousands of Montana’s small businesses. As a result, Montana has been among the national leaders in wage growth and entrepreneurship.
When I took office as Governor in 2013, our state’s uninsured rate was around a staggering 20%. But I brought Republicans and Democrats together to expand Medicaid in Montana. The expansion now sustains thousands of jobs, has put hundreds of millions of dollars into our economy, and serves as a lifeline for our rural hospitals. And as a result, roughly 1 in 10 Montanans now have health insurance under the Medicaid program.
I have worked throughout my career to keep public lands in public hands. Montana’s public lands are our birthright and one of our great equalizers. As Attorney General, I protected and defended our right of access to our streams and rivers. As Governor, I created the Office of Outdoor Recreation to support our outdoor recreation economy, worked to open access to public lands, and restored funding to the Habitat Montana program to protect wildlife habitat across the state while also supporting conservation-minded ranchers, farmers, and landowners.
What are the greatest issues facing Montana that have gone unsolved by elected officials and how would you address them?
With the outbreak of COVID-19 across the country, we are going to need steady leadership in Washington to get our economy back on track. We should start by investing in infrastructure, which will help America rebound from the pandemic, revitalize hard hit Montana communities, and ensure we remain competitive globally. This will create jobs that can’t be outsourced, strengthen our economy, and improve commerce. As Governor, I proposed and signed the largest infrastructure investment in over a decade to improve our schools, bridges and water and sewer systems across the state to create good-paying jobs and boost the state's economy. If we can get it done through bipartisan cooperation here in Montana, then we should be able to do it in Washington too.
The pandemic has also heightened the importance of making sure every Montanan has access to quality affordable health care. In Montana, we have made great strides over the last seven years from expanding Medicaid to improving access to health care. In 2019, I signed three pieces of legislation into law to address prescription drug costs in Montana. But the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs is still just too expensive.
We must protect the progress we have made in Montana and make health care more affordable and accessible for all Montanans. Mitch McConnell and the Senate continue to try to take health care away from 152,000 Montanans with pre-existing conditions. And for too long, the pharmaceutical industry has gotten their way in Washington and prevented meaningful action to lower the cost of prescription drugs. Just as I have as your governor, I will stand up to special interests to ensure every Montanan has access to affordable, quality health care and make Washington work for you, not them.