Steve Bullock has served as the Democratic Governor of Montana since 2013 and as chair of the National Governors Association since 2018. His first job after law school was as legal counsel to the Secretary of State of Montana. Later, he served as Montana’s Executive Assistant Attorney General and acting Chief Deputy Attorney General before being elected Attorney General in 2008. Bullock also practiced law in D.C. and started his own law firm in Helena, Montana. Bullock announced his campaign on YouTube in May 2019.
On the Issues
AAI tracks statements, non-statements, and the track records of each presidential candidate on the issues we care about most. Click on an issue to read what Steve Bullock has said on the campaign trail.
For our take on why these are the 12 issues that are most important to our community, read here.
“You can make changes. Even in Montana, with a two-thirds Republican legislature, we passed a law that said, if you're going to spend money in our elections, I don't care if you call yourselves Americans for America for America, you're going to have to disclose every one of those dollars in the last 90 days. I'll never forget running for re-election in 2016. Even we stopped the Koch brothers from spending it that time. If we can kick the Koch brothers out of Montana, we can do it in D.C., we can do it everywhere. And we're also taking steps, additional steps that we've taken -- I passed an executive order.” (7/30/2019 Democratic Debate, transcript, NBC)
"This proposal builds on Governor Bullock’s roadmap for getting Big Money out of politics:
- “Check the Box” to Curb Foreign Influence
- Ban SuperPACs
- Empower Watchdogs to Enforce Our Campaign Laws
- Pass Federal Disclose Act to End Dark Money
- Executive Order to Crack Down on Dark Money Nationwide
Build the Movement to Overturn Citizens United" (Retrieved 7/28/2019, https://stevebullock.com/one-big-idea/)
WASHINGTON POST: Do you support eliminating the electoral college in favor of the popular vote?
BULLOCK: “No. While it is troubling that in two of the last five elections the popular vote and the electoral college vote had different results, we need to focus on why Democrats aren’t winning some communities rather than scrap an institution that has been around since our nation’s founding. Even if we cobble together 271 electoral votes, we won’t be able to lead our nation forward if we aren’t including every community. The bigger issue is that we need to not just win, but govern.” (6/21/2019, The Washington Post)
PAYNE: So in this campaign, you've put a huge emphasis on dark money - the idea of corporate dollars making it into our elections at multiple levels. And so when we're looking at the country today, the world today, there are so many issues before us - climate change, health care is top of mind for many voters - why, for you, is campaign finance that thing that you're focusing on?
BULLOCK: Yeah. And not only because it's been more or less what I've been fighting for since I got into public office, but I think it's also one of the most pressing issues to face - all the other issues....So I don't think, like, if you walk down the street in Sioux City, most people are saying, you know what? The biggest issue out there is the corrosive influence of money in our system. But what they would say is, this economy is not working for me, and Washington, D.C., doesn't seem to give a damn about me.
DETROW: So on campaign finance reform, let's go into the future, however long it is until the general election. You win the nomination, you win the general election, you're the president of the United States, and here's what you're facing - you're facing a Supreme Court that it is very unlikely will change its view on campaign finance reform unless there's a drastic shift on the bench. You've got an FEC that's been paralyzed for years and years. You've got a Congress that there's a chance will still be led on the Senate side by Mitch McConnell, who has spent decades opposing most campaign finance reform bills. There is a lot in place that would block any sort of reform going forward. What is your plan to get some clear accomplishments on campaign finance and dark money?
BULLOCK: Yeah. And let's even take that a step further, that Mitch McConnell has been part of the core of trying to completely dismantle all regulation in money in politics. You talk about a number of issues. We could talk about maybe what we could do on the court and things like that. So I was - the only state in the country that passed - did by executive order, rule that said, if you want to bid for a state contract, I'm not going to tell you that you can't spend in our elections. But you have to disclose every single dollar that you're either contributing or spending to influence our elections.Think about what a difference - the federal government contracts with dang near every company in the country. We've got them in federal court right now on the same day that Trump was with Putin in Helsinki. Secretary of treasury said, well, we're getting rid of this little rule that requires 501(c)(4), these nonprofits that are spending a lot of their money in political activities, that they no longer even have to collect the names of their major donors. This rule's been around since Richard Nixon (laughter). He's not - wasn't the model of transparency. So now, really, a Russian could give to one of these or the NRA; nobody would even know. You know, we've also had, I mean, the lawyer that created the Citizens United case, this guy out of Indiana - his name's Jim Bopp. And the Bopp law firm has said that their whole effort is to dismantle every single bit of regulation over our elections. So that's any transparency and sunshine. That's any limitations on contributions. That's any limitations on spending. I think the next solicitor general, the next Justice Department should be equally vigilant and say, where are those cases out there - not just Washington, D.C., but around the country - that we could actually, the U.S. Department of Justice, could take a role in trying to bring up to preserve this system? Because we're all - you know, I say that - you know, and it's true, that at least there's one day every couple of years where we're all equal, and that's on Election Day. And what we're having more and more is people don't even think it's worth voting, from the perspective that their vote doesn't matter. (6/18/2019, NPR)
- Well, yeah, I was attorney general when Citizens United decision came up and I've done more to try to make sure that elections are decided by people not corporations than anybody else in this field. Fundamentally we got to get the economy working for all of us not just the Donald Trumps of the world and we have to make sure that people believe that their vote and their voice matters. Once we start doing that we can deal with- And that's the way we'll make meaningful progress in other areas. (6/9/2019, CBS)
- Bullock signed the Montana DISCLOSE Act in 2015, one of the strongest campaign finance disclosure laws in the country in an effort to stop dark money from entering politics. The law requires the disclosure of all donors to any independent group spending money on state elections. (7/22/2019, Axios)
Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
- "As Governor, I fought for folks with disabilities to receive equal wages and work without discrimination — but we have a long way to go. On the anniversary of the ADA, we must all recommit to ensuring a fair shot for every American. As President, that's exactly what I'll do." (7/26/2019, Twitter)
- "And the second part of your question was, so how do you appeal to people of color, as an example? And at the end of the day, it's up to the voters. I would never suggest - you know, I talk about, I had an opportunity in life. I certainly recognize that a lot of people don't have the opportunity that I had, and for some members of our communities, they never have. And would never want to compare, like, either my life to the lives of some people in communities of color or even different disenfranchised or disadvantaged or people of color - different groups. So the best I can do there is, honestly, show up, listen, learn, take action, recognizing that, like, state like Montana's an example - when I first got elected, I did a health improvement plan for the entire state, when I recognized about 7% of our population's Native American. If you're Native American in Montana, on average you live 20 years less. So here's the specific problem that, for the last 6 1/2 years, I've been trying to address. If you look at, economically, you know, an African American family on average makes about 58% of a white non-Hispanic. So addressing the unique and challenges from historical that are now to contemporary for each of communities of color in each of the facets, I think, of our country is going to be real important for the next president." (6/18/2019, NPR)
- “I am honored to stand up for all Montanans to ensure that no one is denied full and equal participation in our state’s workforce based on discrimination and intolerance,”(1/20/2016, Billings Gazette)
Securitization and Surveillance
- "I think that tech giants like Amazon or Facebook or Google ought to have a lot more obligations to our society." (6/20/19, The New York Times)
Should the federal government require the use of E-Verify to check the legal status of all hires by private employers?
As Attorney General of Montana, I opposed a measure that would have run legal status checks on every person seeking state jobs or services, and I’d oppose similar action at the federal level. Policies like this don’t just increase government bureaucracy, they discourage people from seeking necessary services.” (6/21/2019, The Washington Post)
Do you support increased border security funding, including new screening equipment at ports of entry and additional resources to process the recent increase of asylum seekers?
Yes. Right now, there are only about 400 judges hearing nearly 800,000 immigration cases — they need more help to streamline the process and reduce the backlog. We should also give our Customs inspectors and Border Patrol agents the resources they need to respond to the challenges they’re facing, while making sure that those apprehended at the border are treated with decency and afforded the basic human dignity that this administration has denied them.” (6/21/2019, The Washington Post)
- "Three years ago, 49 lives were lost at #Pulse. Today we mourn them, celebrate them, and continue our fight in honor of their memories. Hate cannot win." (6/12/2019, Twitter)
Criminal Justice Reform
Do you support or oppose the death penalty?
“I support it in limited circumstances....I wouldn’t take it off the table for the most extreme circumstances, like terrorism.” (6/20/2019, New York Times)
Bigoted Speech: Instances of Condemnation and/or Use
- "I don't agree with everything that these members say, but any parent, any preacher, knows that telling four duly elected congresswomen to go back home, it's racist.... So he will try to distract, he will try to divide, but we got to be focusing on also the issues that impact people's everyday lives."" 7/21/2019, ABC)
“Look, I think this is the part of the discussion that shows how often these debates are detached from people's lives. We've got 100,000 people showing up at the border right now. If we decriminalize entry, if we give health care to everyone, we'll have multiples of that. Don't take my word, that was President Obama's Homeland Security secretary that said that. The biggest problem right now that we have with immigration, it's Donald Trump. He's using immigration to not only rip apart families, but rip apart this country. We can actually get to the point where we have safe borders, where we have a path to citizenship, where we have opportunities for Dreamers. And you don't have to decriminalize everything. What you have to do is have a president in there with the judgment and the decency to treat someone that comes to the border like one of our own.” (7/30/2019 Democratic Debate, transcript, NBC)
“The challenge isn't that it's a criminal offense to cross the border. The challenge is that Donald Trump is president, and using this to rip families apart. A sane immigration system needs a sane leader. And we can do that without decriminalizing and providing health care for everyone.” (7/30/2019 Democratic Debate, transcript, NBC)
- "A lot of the immigration crisis that we're facing right now is a crisis of this administration's making. The idea of ripping families apart or getting rid of protections for dreamers. I would work on fixing that and immigration reform rather than just throwing health insurance for everybody that's undocumented in this country.”" (7/10/2019, ABC)
"A three year old is not a security risk. We need to get our priorities straight." (7/29/2019,
NO BAN Act
Should the U.S. return to accepting at least 110,000 refugees a year, as the Obama administration planned for fiscal 2017?
“We need to embrace the refugee families fleeing violence, torture, or certain death. We should do our part to help with the global refugee crisis, by returning to the baselines established under the Obama administration.” (6/21/2019, The Washington Post)
- I think that Israel is a trusted partner, a trusted friend to our country, and will continue to [sic]. I think there have been certainly, in the territories, there have been challenges with the decisions that currently Netanyahu has made. But I also believe that here’s a place where we need to step back and turn around and say: “we could get things back on track, work with our allies, and get to a two-state solution.” (6/20/19, The New York Times)
- I think that when it comes to Israel, we've got to continue to work for a two state solution. And what we've seen, like, no I wouldn't have moved the embassy without getting something out of it. And I think He's making things that much more difficult at every step. (7/9/2019, Twitter)
- "Look, maybe you could've struck a better deal with Iran but you know what, Iran was allowing inspections. And maximum pressure has made it so that even our allies are walking away from us. The idea that you can do anything-- there's going to be a lot of rebuilding to do.... Realize part of what was keeping Iran in check was places like China and Russia." (7/9/2019, Twitter)
U.S. Presence in the Arab World
- "Even as Governor, right, as Commander in Chief of my National guard, I've gone to Afghanistan. I've gone to Kuwait.... number one is always protect Americans. two, strengthen our traditional alliances. Three, deter our adversaries. You also have to do it through dialogue. And fourth, promote American values like democracy and human rights around the world. What this guy- what President Trump has done- American First has become America alone. And he has this reflex that he wants to treat our allies as adversaries and our adversaries as allies." (7/9/2019, Twitter)
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