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MT Gov. Bullock, amid presidential-run talk, heads off to Iowa

Posted at 6:46 PM, Feb 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-14 20:46:15-05

HELENA – Gov. Steve Bullock, who had more mentions in national media this week on his potential run for president, is heading off this weekend to Iowa – the state that holds the first presidential nominating caucus next year.

Bullock, a Democrat, leaves Friday for Iowa, where he’ll attend Democratic events in three cities over the weekend.

He told Montana reporters Thursday that his visit is being hosted by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, a longtime friend and mentor.

When asked why he’s going to Iowa, Bullock said he’ll be doing what he’s done at many political events across the country in recent months: Talk about how he’s helped bridge political divides to get things done in Montana.

“We’re gathering here today, not even knowing if the federal government is going to be shut down yet again,” he said. “We certainly see trust in government decreasing. … I think that people can learn from the way that we do things in Montana.”

Bullock can’t run for re-election next year because of state term limits. He hasn’t said precisely what he intends to do in 2020, but is clearly exploring whether he wants to jump into the presidential race.

Bullock formed the Big Sky Values PAC in mid-2017, which is paying for his travels and extracurricular political activity. Through last year, the PAC had raised nearly $1.4 million and spent about $1.1 million.

Accompanying Bullock to Iowa this weekend will be his chief of staff, Tom Lopach, and communications director Ronja Abel.

Earlier this week, Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin wrote a piece headlined “Why Democrats should hope Steve Bullock runs,” touting his strong approval ratings in a Republican-leaning state and accomplishments on “progressive objectives” like Medicaid expansion, education funding and cracking down on “dark money” in politics.

Her column also referred to 1976, when another governor from a conservative state emerged as the Democratic presidential nominee: Jimmy Carter.

Bullock said Wednesday he’s still focusing primarily on Montana and the current four-month legislative session, which will decide on his proposed budget and future plans for Medicaid expansion in the state.

 — Story by Mike Dennison – MTN News