MT Governor 2016: The First Debate

I watched the first gubernatorial debate between Governor Steve Bullock and Republican Bozeman businessman Greg Gianforte. The debate was sponsored by the Montana Broadcasters Association and held in Big Sky.

The Associated Press reported that Gianforte was collected and composed. Bullock was assertive and confident. I would agree with that. It was also boring.

Here are my thoughts about the people asking the questions, my key issues for Gianforte and Bullock, the best response during the debate, the refugee question, the propaganda machines, the question I want to be answered, TWW poll results, and my winner.

I was not that impressed with the people asking the debate questions. Just because you’ve been around the broadcast business for decades does not mean you’re qualified to ask political questions in a debate.

Even after watching the debate I still believe that a key issue for Gianforte is if he can make people believe that he is moderate enough to prevent the far-right wackos in the legislature from running wild. His past donations and friendships show otherwise. He just may be the most conservative candidate to run for Montana governor in decades.

On the other hand, the key thing for Bullock is trust that he can actually run the state effectively. He’s had some problems. I am also concerned about what we don’t know about how his administration has been run so far, and if there will be further fall-out from the Lt Governor fiasco.

The Best Response During the Debate:

One of the issues I proposed asking about was the stream access issue that has dogged Gianforte for several weeks. That question was asked.

Here is how it was answered and it was the response of the day:

Gianforte talked about that he and his wife have the closest public fishing access to downtown Bozeman on the East Gallatin River. In kind of a smart-ass way, he then said, “Governor I’ve invited you to come out and fish, but you haven’t shown up yet, you’re welcomed.”

Bullock responded with, “Thanks for the invitation, but the beauty is that’s a public right-of-way. I don’t need your permission.”

Refugee Question:

One of the other questions I wanted to be answered was the “unvetted” refugee question from Bullock. I thought Bullock answered it appropriately.

There won’t be any “unvetted” refugees coming to Montana. Gianforte and many others have failed to understand how the system works.

The Propaganda Machines:

Both candidates had their supporters out in force on social media.

In regard to the political party support, the Montana Democratic Party sent many fact sheets with information (about six total). I did not see any emails from the Montana Republican Party.

The Montana GOP was very busy on Twitter during the debate, but so was the Montana Democrats. That was pretty much a tie. I give the Montana Democratic Party the win on their work in email with fact sheets.

The headline from a Montana Democrats’ press release: “Montana Democrats Respond to Steve Bullock’s Decisive Debate Win.”

The headline from the Gianforte campaign press release: “Gianforte Wins First Debate
Stresses Business Leadership Over Career Politicians.”

The Unanswered Question:

Here is an open invitation to the Bullock and Gianforte campaigns to answer a question about making it as easy for independent candidates to make the ballot in Montana – the same way as it is for Republican, Democrat, or Libertarian candidates.

For an independent candidate to make the ballot for Governor in Montana, the candidate would need to gather almost 12,000 signatures. Would the Bullock or Gianforte administration push to make changes to this law – to make it equal for everyone?

You can respond to me at

If we had more independents serving the legislature we would have less partisanship and better representation.

TWW Poll:

Here at The Western Word (TWW) a few minutes after the debate ended, I posted a poll asking, “Who won the first debate between candidates for Montana Governor: Steve Bullock or Greg Gianforte?”

I closed the poll at 5:00 a.m. this morning (Monday). Thanks to the hundreds of people who voted!

Here are the results:

Gianforte: 73.4%
Bullock: 24.5%
Neither/Draw: 2.1%

My Final Thoughts:

I was impressed with Bullock because he has improved his speaking skills and he did have the best response to the stream access issue. I was also equally impressed with Gianforte’s grasp of the issues and he came across as knowledgeable.

I don’t think that either candidate had a decisive victory in this first debate. I voted that it was a draw/tie.

You can watch the debate on YouTube by clicking HERE.

Click HERE for the Associated Press story about the debate.

Click HERE for the Lee Newspapers story about the debate.

Click HERE for the MTN story about the debate.

## END ##


2 thoughts on “MT Governor 2016: The First Debate

  1. Last night, I finally had a chance to watched the Gubernatorial Debate between Bullock and Gianforte. It was a good discussion and 9% on topic with just a few low blows. For me the access issue is a none issue but one of the only toe holds Bullock had to use. Gianforte did very well and so did Bullock for the most part. Bullock was weak on Jobs, Energy and taking in Syrian refugees. I’d call this debate a 60/40 for Gianforte based on focusing on higher income job growth and his support for coal and overall energy including coal.

    We have never seen Gov. Bullock out here in western Montana in the last three years but Gianforte has been here twice in the past 4 months. I think Gianforte is working the people better than Bullock.Looking forward to the next debate.

Comments are closed.