But while Bullock has promoted centrist policies in some areas, as would be expected from a Democrat in a conservative state, he leans left on other issues. Here’s a look at where he stands.
Bullock’s signature issue is money in politics, especially the deluge unleashed by the Citizens United ruling in 2010: hundreds of millions of dollars from corporations and wealthy individuals who don’t have to be publicly identified. His premise is that this “dark money” has poisoned the political system, and the public’s faith in the system’s integrity, such that the government can’t address other problems without addressing this one first.
In 2015, he worked with Republicans in the Montana Legislature to require political action committees to identify their donors. And last July, he sued the Trump administration in an effort to preserve a similar requirement for political nonprofits like the National Rifle Association and Planned Parenthood.
Infrastructure has been another focus for Bullock, who is calling for nearly $300 million in spending on Montana’s roads, bridges, sewage and water lines, and other systems. He has also emphasized the need for high-speed internet access in rural areas to close “the rural-urban divide.”
Last year, in another major action on internet access, he became the first governor to sign an executive order to restore net neutrality rules at the state level after the Federal Communications Commission repealed it nationally. Other governors followed his lead.
Bullock used to oppose gun control. As recently as 2016, he rejected universal background checks and emphasized that during his tenure, “our Second Amendment rights have been expanded in Montana.”
More recently, however, he has shifted.
In an op-ed in The Great Falls Tribune last year, he wrote that he had come to support universal background checks, magazine size limits and extreme risk protection laws. (Commonly known as red-flag laws, these measures allow the temporary removal of firearms from people who are deemed likely to become violent.) Over the summer, he went further, endorsing a ban on certain semi-automatic weapons, which he had rejected in 2009.
Most of the Democrats running for president are calling for universal health care, but Bullock isn’t. Asked last year whether he supported “Medicare for All,” he demurred, saying there were “any number of different paths” to make health care “affordable, accessible and of quality.”
He did shepherd an expansion of Medicaid through the Republican-controlled Montana Legislature in 2015. He also supports the Affordable Care Act and has spoken out against attempts to repeal or undermine it, accusing the Trump administration and congressional Republicans of trying to “sabotage” the law.
As governor of Montana, which has been hit hard by droughts and fires exacerbated by climate change, Bullock has called for swift action on the environment. He condemned Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, writing on Facebook: “Ask any Montana farmer, rancher, hunter, angler or skier — climate change is real and poses a threat to our economy and way of life. To not acknowledge that or deal with it in a responsible way is shortsighted and dangerous.”
But his proposals are not necessarily the same as other Democrats’. He has argued that it’s impossible to switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy in the next 15 to 20 years — longer than the time scientists say is left for action — and that states like his own ought to test technologies that would capture carbon emissions.
“You often hear a false choice: You can either address climate change or we can continue to produce power from coal and fossil fuels, but not both,” he said in 2017. “And I think we need to reject this choice.”
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.