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Tuesday, May 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana joins Democratic presidential field

Gov. Steve Bullock, Democratic presidential candidate, holds a roundtable discussion with members of the local media Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at his campaign headquarters in Helena, Mont. (Thom Bridge / AP)
Gov. Steve Bullock, Democratic presidential candidate, holds a roundtable discussion with members of the local media Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at his campaign headquarters in Helena, Mont. (Thom Bridge / AP)
By Emma Kinery Bloomberg

Montana Governor Steve Bullock said he will run for president in 2020, becoming the 22nd Democratic candidate vying for the party’s nomination and positioning himself as a centrist able to work with Republicans.

“We need to defeat Donald Trump in 2020 and defeat the corrupt system that lets campaign money drown out the people’s voice so we can finally make good on the promise of a fair shot for everyone,” Bullock said in a video posted Tuesday on Twitter.

Bullock, 53, is serving his second term as governor. He is popular with Montanans of both parties and is building his presidential campaign on his record of bipartisanship and pragmatism as a Democrat in Republican-leaning state. Working with his state’s GOP-controlled legislature, he obtained a continuation of a Medicaid expansion program and a law mandating campaign-finance disclosure, which he has made a signature issue.

He also signed an executive order banning state employer discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender.

Bullock is the third Western governor to join the race, along with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. In addition, Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, announced his candidacy on Thursday.

Born and raised in Montana, Bullock was a lawyer in private practice before he was elected to the post of state attorney general in 2008. He won his first term as governor in 2012. He was re-elected in 2016, clinching a four—point victory in a state that Donald Trump won by 20 points.

In the video, Bullock touted his efforts to curb the influence of so-called dark money in politics and said he’ll seek to do the same thing nationally.

“That’s how I was able to bring Democrats and Republicans together — to fight dark money and pass one of the strongest campaign finance laws in the country,”’ Bullock said in the video.

Bullock has been signaling his intention to run for president since he attended the Iowa State Fair in 2018, though he said he would not make a decision until after the legislative session concluded on May 1 of this year. He has made six trips to Iowa, the first-in-the nation nominating state, and has already hired campaign staffers. He also has formed a political action committee, Big Sky Values.

Bullock isn’t well-known outside Montana, though he heads the National Governors Association. He’ll face an uphill battle making his mark in the biggest field of candidates for the Democratic nomination in U.S. history, some of whom have national profiles and have been campaigning for months.

The race also is being shaped by the presence of former Vice President Joe Biden, who has emerged as the front runner since he announced his candidacy on April 25.

Still, a lack of early name recognition isn’t necessarily fatal to a candidacy. One underdog, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, has managed to vault from a virtual unknown when he announced his exploratory committee in January to an early top contender.

Biden’s closest competitor is Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the runner-up for the Democratic nomination in 2016. Four other candidates — Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, Buttigieg and former Texas Representative Beto O’Rourke — are bunched behind them.

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