Hard not to notice the timing here.
Democrats have been after Bullock for many months to challenge Republican Steve Daines for Senate this fall as his term as governor winds down. Montana is a red state, a heavy lift for them — but doable. Jon Tester’s won three Senate terms there since 2006, after all. The asterisk in Tester’s case is that he’s had the good luck to come up for reelection in three Democratic wave years. There was the 2006 election in which Dems took back the House amid public anger over Iraq and Hurricane Katrina. There was the 2012 election when Obama swept to a second term. And there was the 2018 election in which a backlash to Trump propelled Democrats to a new House majority. Tester’s survived three election near-death experiences, winning each Senate race by no more than four points. This year, with Trump at the top of the ballot, the task for his party is daunting. Nothing less than a top-tier candidate will give them even an outside chance at Daines’s seat. Bullock is the only top-tier Democrat there.
They grumbled when he decided to run for president last year, barely registering in the polls before quietly dropping out. He was asked repeatedly about the Senate seat and insisted that having to commute between Montana and D.C. would be too disruptive to his family. His family is now onboard, says the NYT in a new story today Bullock’s likely entrance into the race. Is that what finally convinced him to run? Or … was it maybe the fact that Bullock would be understandably reluctant to waste his time running in Montana with socialist Bernie Sanders on the ticket and now, suddenly, as of last night, he no longer has to worry much about that?