Lifelong Montanan & New York Times columnist, Sarah Vowell, has a great piece out about Democrats like U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D. MT) and Governor Steve Bullock (D. MT) have been able to win big races in a red state like Montana. Her piece compares Bullock, who is running for the U.S. Senate against incumbent U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R. MT), to long time Senator and Senate Majority leader, Mike Mansfield (D. MT). What Bullock and Mansfield and all Montana Democrat share is a value that good government and good politics are key to winning statewide:
The current administration of Gov. Steve Bullock, a two-term Democrat, has been reminiscent of the old, functional Mansfield Senate. At a time when Washington impotence is symbolized by how Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, shamelessly refers to himself as the “grim reaper,” it’s worth contemplating a deceptively bland talking point from Mr. Bullock’s failed presidential bid and current U.S. Senate campaign, his pledge to “make Washington work more like Montana.”He is not proposing to export the Miles City Bucking Horse Sale to the National Mall, though who wouldn’t want to see that. He is simply alluding to the fact that in our state capital Helena, elected officials from both parties negotiate with one another and the chief executive to pass laws that actually help people. And just as Mr. Mansfield would tiptoe across the aisle to exploit the rift between centrist Republicans and conservative insurgents like Barry Goldwater, Mr. Bullock has capitalized on a civil war among Montana conservatives in a way that might be instructive to the country at large — though the methodology works only if the rest of you can scrape up a few lucid Republicans. (Try harder, Kentucky.)
The Republican legislators are torn between the “. 38 Special,” a petulant Tea Party-tinged cabal, and the “Solutions Caucus” of businesslike conservatives who will stick with the right wing on bedrock beliefs like limiting abortion — one bill provoked a Bullock veto — but will vote with the Democrats when doing so solves a logistical problem or staves off needless idiocy. They sided with the Democrats, for example, to kill a bill that would have prohibited the state health department from requiring vaccinations of day care employees and children. When some of them partnered with Democrats to reauthorize Medicaid expansion, jars of petroleum jelly materialized on their desks like the severed horse head in “The Godfather,” apparently to help them sodomize the citizens of Montana. (By giving more of us better, cheaper health care?)
One of the two legislators Governor Bullock appointed to his statewide council of business leaders to recommend divvying up federal Covid-19 stimulus grants was State Representative Llew Jones, a Republican from Conrad. It was a deft, bipartisan campaign move, but also astute management, in that Mr. Jones, a member of the Solutions Caucus, is a thoughtful public servant with a master’s degree in economics.For Mr. Bullock, good government and good politics are often indistinguishable. Compared with the dystopian whimsy of President Trump’s pandemic news conferences, Mr. Bullock’s straightforward public briefings have featured him calmly enumerating statistical data from county health departments and issuing updates on what turned out to be an effective statewide stay-at-home order.
Give the piece a read and when you’re done, let’s help Bullock and his fellow Montana Democrats win big this year: