Updated 9:40 a.m. MST 3/10/2020 Former presidential candidate Steve Bullock is officially running for a Montana Senate seat, making the Mountain West region a big player in Democrats’ push to flip the U.S. Senate.
Bullock has been Montana’s governor for seven years, even winning reelection in 2016 as Trump took the state by 20 points. He’ll be running against Republican Steve Daines, a now 5-year incumbent.
“It’s a total game changer,” Rob Saldin, political science professor at the University of Montana, said.
He said it turns a race that was thought to be a Republican lock into a toss-up.
“Bullock jumping into this thing certainly makes it a lot more likely that [Democrats] can take back control of the Chamber,” he said. “That still looks like a little bit of a stretch but they have a chance now.”
Bullock will face stiff competition. Daines is popular with many Montanans and has the support of President Trump, who tweeted late last month that Daines was a “strong conservative.”
“Trump is popular here in Montana and his supporters are pretty rock solid,” Saldin said. “Daines clearly thinks it’s in his best political interest to maintain that tight relationship with the president.”
If Bullock joins the race, he’ll be the second Democratic governor in our region to go head-to-head against a Republican for a U.S. Senate seat this year. John Hickenlooper, former governor of Colorado, is also making a bid.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado. Follow Nate Hegyi on Twitter @natehegyi.