Montana voters overwhelmingly rejected Steve Bullock’s recent attempt to represent us in the US Senate – he lost the race by over 60,000 votes. Based on the column he submitted to news publications across the state, it seems Mr. Bullock still has not gotten over his loss.
Voters going to the polls last November had a lengthy record on which to judge Mr. Bullock – he had served four years as Attorney General and eight years as Governor. Additionally, they had all the promises and policies he pushed during his failed Presidential run and the issues he ran on during his Senate bid. Even with all that information to consider – or maybe because of it – Montana voters said: “No Thanks, Steve!”
Like a spurned lover hoping for reconciliation, Mr. Bullock has reemerged into public view offering an unsolicited “I told you so” to the very voters that rejected him and his fellow Democrats at the ballot box. While likely intended to demonstrate the differences between his style of governing and the current administration, the reality is Mr. Bullock’s column offers little more than revisionist history and ad hominem attacks.
In his piece, Mr. Bullock falsely claims that in 2013 he “eliminat[ed] the business equipment tax for small, Main Street businesses”. However, what really occurred was that Mr. Bullock signed a Republican bill that increased the business equipment tax exemption to $100,000, meaning that any business with more than $100,000 in equipment – which is most businesses in Montana – were still paying the tax.
Mr. Bullock also boldly proclaimed that he had “made the lives of Montanans economically better.” This is an interesting claim when you consider that during his final year in office, our state ranked 46th in wages and that Montana wages were 18 percent lower than the national average.
During his time in elected office, Mr. Bullock often had a tenuous relationship with the truth but surely, we can all agree that someone making $18,400 is not wealthy, right? Nope, not Steve Bullock. That is big bucks to him. Mr. Bullock railed against Republican’s giving a “massive tax break to the wealthiest among us”. In reality, Governor Gianforte and Republican legislators lowered Montana’s highest tax bracket from 6.9% to 6.75% – that bracket kicks in for those who earn $18,400 or more. (For the record $18,400 per year is equivalent to $8.85 per hour.)
Bullock also launched an attack on Republicans’ attempts to reform our state’s liberal-leaning judiciary and their efforts to ensure our judges are held accountable. This is not much of a surprise since Mr. Bullock spent a lot of time and energy working to appoint as many Democrats to the bench as he could. Under Mr. Bullock’s watch, he appointed dozens of former Democrat elected officials, reliable Democrat donors, and left-wing trial lawyers to “non-partisan” judicial positions.
For good measure, Mr. Bullock asserts that “Republicans have made it easier to funnel more special interest money and large contributions into our elections”. While I’m not actually sure what, if any, piece of legislation he is referring to, it is another curious claim to make given that Mr. Bullock’s 2020 Senate was the single largest receipt of outside special interest spending in the history of Montana.
All rhetoric aside, there is one thing that Steve Bullock and I agree on; elections do have consequences. And because of the 2020 election, Montanans are better off than they were even a year ago. Governor Gianforte and Republican legislators have done exactly what they promised voters they would: get government out of the way to create a regulatory environment to attract high-wage jobs, cut our taxes, lower government spending, protect our Second Amendment rights and work to improve opportunities for all Montanans.
Over the course of my 20 years in Montana politics, I’ve been a part of a lot of campaigns: some successful, some unsuccessful. It seems as though Mr. Bullock’s cadre of political consultants failed to give him a fundamental piece of advice that all good political consultants should give the day after Election Day: You lost. Spend some time with your family, pick up some new hobbies and stay out of politics for a while.
By: Jake Eaton
Editor’s Note: Jake Eaton is a Billings-based entrepreneur and political consultant. In 2020, he served as Campaign Manager for Governor Greg Gianforte and Chief Strategist for Attorney General Austin Knudsen. Mr. Eaton is also an investor in the parent company of this website.