Thursday, August 25, 2016

Race of the Day- Montana Governor

74 Days Until Election Day

Status: Democrat Incumbent
2012 Presidential Result: Red State (West)

Outlook: Leans Democrat

Montana tends to support Republicans, but Democrats have won the last three Gubernatorial elections and seem to be in line to win a fourth. Republicans in the state probably wish they could join most states in voting in midterms, as they might had better success in those years.

First term Democrat Governor Steve Bullock is seeking reelection. I cannot claim to know a whole bunch about him or the internal politics of Montana, which I imagine are very much about energy resources and maybe Endangered Species. Bullock might have taken a bit of a hit though, when in 2014,  he selected his Lt. Governor to fill a U.S. Senate vacancy, disrupting an ongoing Democrat primary. That Senator turned out to be a disaster and had to embarrassingly drop out of the race after the primary election. In the meantime, Bullock reportedly did not get on very well with his second Lt. Governor. Released emails discovered a strained relationship, and Angela McLean left the Lt. Governorship, not long after being appointed, to take another job in state government. Mike Cooney, a longtime figure in the state's Democrat politics, became Bullock's third Lt. Governor in three years and is now running alongside him in the fall election. The Governor is a native Montanan, but looks far more like the attorney he is than a rancher-type.

Several Republicans with political experience seemed interested in running against Bullock, but the field was basically cleared due to the pocketbook of software company CEO Greg Gianforte. The businessman, who is known as a staunch conservative is very active in philanthropic pursuits and is making his first bid for elected office. Montana law requires Gubernatorial candidates run on a ballot in the primaries with their running-mate and Phillips County Commissioner Lesley Robinson was chosen by Gianforte in advance of the June contest. The nominee is a native Californian, who chose to live and raise his family in Montana, after first visiting the state on a school trip some years before.

Some recent polling has indicated that Bullock has approval ratings in the state that might make it tough for him to unseat, but Gianforte is pressing the point that Montana is the 49th ranked state in wages and that he can use his high-tech background to improve the economy. If it turns out to be a big year for political outsiders, and a lot more Republicans show up to vote than Democrats, Gianforte may have a chance, but there does not appear to be much evidence of that right now.

Gianforte campaign link:

Governor races predicted thus far: 4 D (1 Safe, 2 Leans, 1 Tossup) 0 R
Overall predicted thus far: 15 D, 27R


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