WASHINGTON – Steve Bullock, the governor of Montana who unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic nomination for president, announced Monday that he is running for the U.S. Senate.
His announcement helps boost Democrats’ chances of taking hold of the seat currently held by Republican Sen. Steve Daines. Republicans hold a majority in the Senate with 53 seats but Democrats have their eye on several key races, including in Montana, in hopes of taking hold of the majority in November.
“I’ve always fought for the people of Montana. Together, we expanded health care, protected public lands, banned dark money in politics & more,” Bullock said in a tweet announcing his candidacy. “Now I’m taking that fight to the US Senate. Let’s make Washington work more like Montana.”
Bullock initially launched his presidential bid in May, highlighting his ability to work across the aisle and winning reelection in 2016 when President Donald Trump carried the state. He dropped out of the presidential race in December after his campaign failed to gain much traction.
While questions swirled about whether he would run for the Senate, Bullock was initially against the idea.
“While he plans to work hard to elect Democrats in the state and across the country in 2020, it will be in his capacity as a governor and a senior voice in the Democratic primary – not as a candidate for U.S. Senate,” his spokeswoman, Galia Slayden, told multiple media outlets after he dropped out of the race.
That changed over the months. Bullock was approached by both former President Barack Obama and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, according to Politico.
Bullock’s announcement on Monday marked the last day of the filing deadline for the Senate race.
In his announcement video, Bullock promised to “make Washington work like Montana.”
Last week, as headlines noted Bullock may enter the race, Trump voiced his support for Daines, who met recently met with the president at the White House.
“The great people of Montana can have no better VOICE than Senator @SteveDaines,” the president tweeted. The Associated Press noted he warned: “Whoever the Democrat nominee may be, please understand that I will be working hard with Steve all the way.”
Don Kaltschmidt, chair of the Montana Republican Party, said last week that Bullock “stands with the radical left in support of a complete government takeover of health care, sanctuary cities, gun bans, and removing President Trump from office.” He said Republicans were “proud that Sen. Daines stands with the people of Montana” and works with Trump.
On Saturday, a political action committee that says its goal is to get “Democrats to the polls” said it would invest $750,000 and open field offices in Montana in anticipation of Bullock’s entry in the Senate race.
Progressive Turnout Project’s executive director Alex Morgan said the group will allocate resources to the “potentially pivotal race” for Democrats.
Offices will be opened in Great Falls, Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Helena and Missoula, he said, and 26 workers will be hired to target more than 256,000 Democratic voters statewide.
“Progressive Turnout Project is expanding our $45 million national field program into Montana to help flip this critical Senate seat and elect Gov. Steve Bullock,” Morgan said in a news release.