Donald Trump has been president for just eight months, but Democrats are already gearing up to try to oust him from office in 2020.
Among those considering a run for the White House is Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, a dark horse contender who has been elected twice in this Republican-leaning state.
In a recent interview with The New York Times, Bullock said he thinks he has what it takes to lead the country. “I believe the time is right to lend my voice, the voice of someone that after getting elected has been able to govern in what’s viewed as a red state,’ Bullock said. “Some of the things that I’ve been able to do in Montana can also translate beyond just the state’s border.”
Here are five things you need to know:
1. Bullock Created a Political Action Committee, the First Step Toward Exploring a Potential 2020 Run
The Big Sky Values PAC, created on July 18, will allow him to reach out to potential Democratic donors and pay for any out-of-state costs as he explores whether to throw his hat in the presidential ring.
The video above gives a rundown on how a Trump vs. Bullock election might pan out.
Bullock is seen as a compromise between left-leaning Hillary Clinton supporters and the more progressive Bernie Sanders camp. He was able to increase Medicaid and funding for higher education under Montana’s Republican-led legislature. And his message as a Democrat from the West is clearly meant to reach voters from both parties across the country.
In a recent op-ed in The New York Times titled “How Democrats Can Win the West,” Bullock tapped into a key GOP talking point. “Lately we watch cable news broadcasts coming from New York, featuring creatures of Washington and a dialogue full of lifeless talking points that either defend or assail some federal policy or proposal. That’s the native tongue of Washington, and it’s a language the Democrats’ last three losing presidential candidates spoke fluently but that almost always misses the reality of what Americans, especially those far from the nation’s capital, feel and think.”
Bullock, who is bound by term limits, is also reportedly considering challenging Montana Sen. Steve Gaines, according to KTVQ.
2. Bullock Won Re-election in 2016, Even as Trump Trounced Hillary Clinton in Montana By a Wide Margin
Trump won the state of Montana with 279,240 votes over Clinton’s 177,709 votes, according to the office of Montana’s secretary of state. Republicans have won Montana every presidential election since 1996, so Bullock’s re-election win as governor was significant in this turbulent political climate. Trump held a rally in Billings, Montana in May 2016, where he told voters, “We’re going to win. We’re going to win so much. We’re going to win at trade, we’re going to win at the border. We’re going to win so much, you’re going to be so sick and tired of winning.”
Bullock won too, and he currently has a 59 percent approval rating, according to Morning Consult, proving that voters in the Treasure State are willing to support both parties.
3. Bullock Just Hired a New Chief of Staff With National Experience
Shortly after he formed his PAC in July, Bullock announced that Tom Lopach, former executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and chief of staff to Montana Sen. Jon Tester, would be coming on board as his new chief of staff.
“From early childhood education, to Medicaid expansion, to creating jobs in the outdoor and high-tech economy while protecting our clean air and water and public lands, Steve is getting things done for folks in Montana, and I am honored to help him continue his work,” Lopach said in a press release.
Lopach also was senior vice president of congressional affairs for the Export-Import Bank of the United States. He replaces Tracy Stone-Manning, who Bullock said was going to work for the National Wildlife Federation.
4. Bullock Defeated Rep. Greg Gianforte During the Gubernatorial Race in 2016
Gianforte was elected to the House in a special election this year despite being arrested for a assaulting a reporter. The seat became available after Trump appointed Rep. Ryan Zinke to be interior secretary.
In May, Bullock released a statement on Facebook criticizing his former opponent.
“It is unsettling on many levels that Greg Gianforte physically assaulted a journalist and then lied, refusing to take responsibility for his actions. Yesterday’s events serve as another wake up call to all Montanans and Americans that we must restore civility in politics and governing, and demand more from people who hold the public’s trust. One thing is clear: no matter what happens today, the actions of Gianforte do not reflect the values of Montana or its people.”
5. Bullock Will Be Just 53 years old If Elected President in 2020
Bullock wouldn’t be the youngest person to be president of the United States. Theodore Roosevelt was just 42 years old when he took office, John F. Kennedy was 43.
But after seeing a slate of older candidates in 2016 — Trump is 71 years old — Bullock’s age could be seen by many voters as a positive factor. Check out one of his campaign videos for governor above.
Bullock, 51, was born in Missoula, Montana, and raised in Helena. He earned a law degree Columbia University Law School in New York and worked in Washington, D.C. before serving as Montana’s attorney general. He and his wife Lisa have three children: Caroline, Alexandria and Cameron.
While setting up a political action committee is a key indicator that he’s eyeing a higher office, Bullock hasn’t confirmed that he’s running for the White House or the Senate. “2020 is a long, long way away,” he told reporters in Montana recently. “I have no idea what I’ll be doing at that point.”
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