Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, is hoping to parlay his popularity in his conservative-leaning state into a trip to the Senate by beating Republican incumbent Sen. Steve Daines.
Here are four things to know about Bullock:
He ran for president
Bullock, 54, launched a short-lived presidential campaign before dropping out in December 2019. His campaign failed to catch fire as the field of Democratic candidates expanded to 25 at its peak.
“Today, I am suspending my campaign to become the Democratic Party’s nominee for president,” he said in a statement. “While there were many obstacles we could not have anticipated when entering this race, it has become clear that in this moment, I won’t be able to break through to the top tier of this still-crowded field of candidates.”
The outgoing, two-term governor outraised Daines this election cycle. He raised $42.7 million while spending $38.6 million, compared with the incumbent’s $27 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
The race is tight. FiveThirtyEight reported Bullock leads Daines by just 1 percentage point in various polls.
He called out GOP congressman-elect for physically slamming a reporter
In 2017, Bullock accused GOP Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., of lying about assaulting a reporter.
“It is unsettling on many levels that Greg Gianforte physically assaulted a journalist and then lied, refusing to take responsibility for his actions,” Bullock said in a Facebook post.
Gianforte, who is running for the governorship of Montana, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault for assaulting Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs the day before his election.
His campaign initially blamed Jacobs for the assault but he recanted after Fox News reporter Alicia Acuna, who witnessed the incident, described what she saw.
Bullock successfully sued to remove Trump administration acting land boss
Bullock’s office recently asked a federal judge to remove William Perry Pendley, who was serving as the acting director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. In September, a federal judge ruled Pendley unlawfully served for 424 days without being confirmed to the post.
The agency oversees almost a quarter-billion acres of land, mostly in the West.
“Today’s ruling is a win for the Constitution, the rule of law, and our public lands,” Bullock said after the ruling.
Pendley was nominated to the post by President Trump, but his name was withdrawn after it became clear the conformation process for the former oil industry attorney would become contentious. Trump administration officials rejected the claim that Pendley had illegally led the bureau and have said they would ask the court to leave in place any decisions made under his watch.
Pendley is one of several agency heads who have not been confirmed by the Senate.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.