That title sounds like two all-American guys battling it out – and it may happen!
The National Journal recently reported that Republican businessman Greg Gianforte is laying the groundwork to challenge Democratic Governor Steve Bullock in 2016. If you follow me on Twitter (@TheWesternWord), you would have been one of the first to see the approximately one-thousand-word story.
If the “Greg vs. Steve” contest happens, National Journal contends that Gianforte may be the “wealthiest candidate in Montana history.”
While I don’t know if the “wealthiest candidate” part is true or not, if the reporting from National Journal is to be believed Gianforte may just be the most conservative candidate Montana has seen in a long time. Gianforte may even be the extreme version of Steve Daines.
With the help of blogs and stories like the one in National Review, Gianforte’s views are getting better known across the state, so he may need to personally spend millions of dollars just to keep the needle off the extreme side of the dial.
What worries the Montana Democrats and Bullock is that Gianforte has the wealth to spend in order to move that dial while relentlessly attacking Bullock.
If this contest happens, it will be fun to watch.
It took the Montana Democrats several hours to send a press release about the Gianforte article. When they did get something together, they hit Gianforte hard about discrimination:
Suggesting discrimination is good for business growth, billionaire Greg Gianforte personally lobbied Bozeman officials to oppose a non-discrimination ordinance and even urged them to pass Indiana-style language that would allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT community members, according to emails obtained by National Journal.
“Homosexual advocates try to argue that businesses are leery of locating in towns that aren’t friendly to homosexuals,” Gianforte said in a 2014 email to Bozeman’s mayor and city commissioners. “I believe the opposite is truer.”
To steal a few lyrics from Bob Dylan, “the times they are a-changin’” across the nation as well as Montana. People are looking for moderates and don’t care for the extreme hateful candidates from either side. Those on the right may try to paint Bullock as extreme left, but he has been able to come across as a moderate. Montanans like that.
In fact, right now Steve Bullock is very well-liked in Montana. One poll that National Journal cited showed Bullock had the approval of 72 percent of Montanans, including 53 percent of self-identified Republicans. In other words, Bullock is an all-American boy with a nice family that almost everyone would like to invite over for dinner after church on Sunday.
The major concern that will help Bullock is moderate Montanans believe if he loses in 2016, the extreme Republicans in the Legislature won’t have a Governor who will stop some of the crazy wacko bills from becoming law.
One person told me that without Bullock it would be like the inmates running the asylum.
The race is now leaning likely Democrat. Stranger things have happened, but the conversation between Lloyd Christmas and Mary Swanson (Dumb and Dumber) probably explain Gianforte’s chances better than I can: