Montana Democrats hit the road to drive home urgency of voting


Phil Drake, Great Falls Tribune
Published 8:21 a.m. MT Oct. 18, 2020 | Updated 8:30 a.m. MT Oct. 18, 2020

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Montana Democrats took to the road for a four-wheeled friendly rally Saturday in Great Falls, peppered with spirited calls to action for people to get out and vote Nov. 3.

“How many times have you heard this is the most important election in our lifetime?” Gov. Steve Bullock, now running for U.S. Senate, stood on a stage and bellowed as a cacophony of car horns served as a substitute for cheers at a drive-in event at Montana ExpoPark. “You know what, this is the most important election in our lifetime.”

He said health care, Social Security, public education, public land, support for small businesses and Medicare and Medicaid are on the ballot. 

Bullock was joined by fellow Democrats running for state office. It’s part of a series of stops around the state before Election Day. Ballots with pre-paid postage were sent Oct. 9, as most Montana counties are having mail-in elections due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sen. Jon Tester served as host of the rally, billed as the “Drive Out the Vote: Montana Made Tour,”  which seemed to follow social-distancing protocols and candidates wearing masks when more than one person was on the campaign stage.

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“This guy knows how to bring people together, he knows how to get things done, he knows how to work across the aisle, he knows how to compromise,” Tester said as he introduced Bullock. “And quite frankly, in the end, he knows how to keep Montana the last best place.”

Bullock is in a close race with Republican incumbent Sen. Steve Daines. A recent poll from Montana State University gave Bullock a slight lead, but another posting from Emerson College Polling gave Daines, who is seeking his second six-year term, the edge.

Democrats hope a Bullock victory will help them flip the Senate and give them the majority. Republicans hope a Daines victory, along with a reelection of President Donald Trump, who won the state by 20 points in 2016, will let the remain in control.

Trump is leading Democratic challenger Joe Biden in Montana in recent polls, but his edge has slipped somewhat since 2016, and he leads by seven points.

The event included Kathleen Williams, who is running for the U.S. House seat, gubernatorial candidate Mike Cooney, running mate Casey Schreiner of Great Falls and attorney general candidate Raph Graybill, a Great Falls native.

Also on the ticket are Melissa Romano for state superintendent of public instruction, secretary of state candidate Bryce Bennett and state auditor Shane Morigeau.

“We have 17 days and let’s not kid ourselves, our voice is our vote,” Bullock said. “What we do over these next 17 days matters.”

Bullock said while he was governor Republicans and Democrats in the Montana Legislature passe Medicaid expansion and the state has not lost a rural hospital due to financial woes.

Bullock said about he said were efforts by Republicans privatize Medicare, and said he would fight to preserve such programs.

“Our seniors deserve their Social Security and Medicare,” he said. “That’s not a government program, that is a promise from the first time you signed a W2 paycheck.”

He repeated and often-repeated phrase during the campaign that public education is “one of the great equalizers.” 

Other than Daines, Republicans running for office include gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte and running mate Kristen Juras of Great Falls, U.S. House candidate Matt Rosendale, attorney general candidate Austin Knudsen, state auditor candidate Troy Downing, secretary of state candidate Christi Jacobsen and incumbent state Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen. 

This story will be updated.

Reporter Phil Drake is our eye on the state capitol. For tips, suggestions or comment, he can be reached at 406-231-9021 or pdrake@greatfallstribune.com. To support his work, subscribe clicking the “Subscribe” tab at the top of the page.

Read or Share this story: https://www.greatfallstribune.com/story/news/2020/10/18/montana-democrats-hit-road-drive-home-urgency-voting/3700098001/



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