“The debate stage would be lacking a bit if they didn’t have somebody that actually got reelected in a state Donald Trump won,” he told reporters in Helena Tuesday.
So how will Bullock set himself apart?
A key focus in Bullock’s campaign will be on his successful record as a Democrat in a largely Republican state — including expanding Medicaid to adults making less than around $17,000 a year, which dramatically reduced Montana’s uninsured rate, and support for abortion rights in an era when many Republican states are moving forward with restrictive laws.
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Montana Governor Steve Bullock campaigning at a democrats gathering in Livingston, Montana on July 2, 2016.
But a key focus of Bullock’s announcement video was on his fight to upset the hold of “dark money” on politics.
“Today we see evidence of a corrupt system all across America — a government that serves campaign money, not the people,” Bullock said in his announcement video.
That, too, might sound familiar. Both Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts have championed anti-corruption platforms.
(MORE: 2020 Democrats jockey for the progressive mantle in the era of Trump)
But Bullock, who is quicker to mention his bipartisan work across Montana than he is to align with the progressive tilt of the Democratic Party, has a unique connection that dates back to a case he argued before the Supreme Court — one that spurred his bid for the governor’s mansion.
While serving as attorney general for Montana, Citizens United v. FEC was decided. Bullock fought to uphold the state’s age-old laws, which were established in 1912, to protect local politics from the money coming in from the state’s copper boom.
It was the only state not to change its laws to align with the Citizens United decision in 2010.
Bullock eventually lost that fight in the Supreme Court, but soon after decided to run for the governor’s seat. During his first term, his administration introduced some of the strictest campaign finance laws in the nation.
“I believe in an America where every child has a fair shot to do better than their parents. But we all know that that kind of opportunity no longer exists for most people and for far too many, it never has,” Bullock said in his announcement video Tuesday.
“That’s why we need to defeat Donald Trump in 2020 and defeat the corrupt system that lets campaign money drown out the people’s voice — so we can finally make good on the promise of a fair shot for everyone,” the governor said.