How many does this make now? Somewhere in the range of 130? It’s easy to lose track, given how many Democrats have tossed their hats in the ring, but now they have even more company. Montana Governor Steve Bullock jumped into the race today. His main claim to fame seems to be electability because he was able to win in a fairly red state as a Democrat. (NBC News)
If Democrats care as much about electability in 2020 as they tell pollsters they do, then Steve Bullock has a case to make, even with 21 other candidates in the race.
The Montana governor declared his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in a video Tuesday, highlighting the fact that he’s the only candidate in the race to have won in a red state.
“We need to defeat Donald Trump in 2020 and defeat the corrupt system that lets campaign money drown out the people’s voice, so we can finally make good on the promise of a fair shot for everyone,” Bullock said in a statement.
Bullock has been giving signals that this was coming for some time now. Back in 2017 he set up a PAC to raise money for political activities outside of his home state and raised a couple of million dollars for his travels to early voting primary states. Two weeks ago he released a statement saying that he would make up his mind about announcing a presidential run. At this point, it sounds like he was already pretty sure he was jumping in.
Bullock faces several immediate hurdles in his effort to win the nomination. The most obvious is the fact that he waited so long to get in. A lot of the big donor money has already been sucked out of the system by the roughly two dozen other Democrats who announced before him, not to mention all of the top level experienced staffers who are no longer available to hire.
The second issue he faces is a daunting lack of name recognition. Even if you follow political news regularly, there’s a good chance you couldn’t have named the Governor of Montana unless you actually live in Montana. Now he has to find a way to boost his profile while competing with at least fifteen other hopefuls in the bottom tier. I’m sure CNN will give him a town hall and he’ll make the rounds of the usual talk shows, but unless he suddenly spikes in the polls those invitations will dry up rather quickly.
But Bullock’s biggest problem may be precisely the attribute he claims is his strong suit. He’s widely regarded as a moderate or centrist Democrat. (And let’s be honest… that’s the only way a Democrat wins in Montana.) He ticks all the right boxes for Democrats in terms of abortion, gay marriage, net neutrality, and immigration. But at the same time, he’s been a backer of coal mining, dinging him on the climate change front. He’s also not exactly a gun control nut, either. He’s got a history of working with Republicans in the state legislature to get things done, which is great for Montana, but it’s not going to impress the hard left wing of the party.
That might leave Bullock running firmly in the centrist, establishment lane of the primary race. And that puts him head-to-head with Joe Biden. Good luck with that fight, Steve.