Montana's 2020 election
Montana's 2020 election
The Montana Free Press guide
Republican for Governor
Gianforte was elected to the U.S. House in the 2017 special election and re-elected to a two-year term in 2019. He was the Republican nominee for governor in 2016, losing in the general election to incumbent Gov. Steve Bullock. Gianforte was convicted of misdemeanor assault for attacking a reporter during his 2017 House run. Before entering politics, he founded RightNow Technologies in Bozeman. He has named University of Montana law professor Kristen Juras as his running mate.

Key coverage in the race for Governor

Race profile: The statesman and the mogul

You’d be hard-pressed to identify prominent Montanans with more different resumes than the two major party candidates hoping to be elected Montana’s next governor this fall, succeeding term-limited Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock.

Montana Lowdown: Mike Cooney

Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney interviewed by MTFP Editor-In-Chief John Adams before the June 2020 primary

Montana Lowdown: Greg Gianforte

U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte interviewed by MTFP Editor-In-Chief John Adams before the June 2020 primary

Shared State: Ep. 6 —  Desiring to improve the quality of life

What Montanans have to say about their search for opportunity — and how the platforms espoused by the candidates for governor fit into it

Shared State: Ep. 5 — The grandeur of our mountains and the vastness of our rolling plains

What do candidates mean when they say they’re “for access,” and does that political rhetoric match up with the issues Montanans are actually facing?

Shared State: Ep. 3 — Grateful to God

In Montana’s 2020 race for governor, the candidates’ views on the intersection of religion and policy could have implications for some hot-button legislation.

MTN News debate: Governor

Video of Gianforte and Cooney at their first debate Oct. 3

Montana PBS debate: Governor

Video of Gianforte and Cooney at their second debate Oct. 6
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Fundraising and campaign spending

As a state candidate, Gianforte files campaign finance reports with the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices. See the COPP Campaign Electronic Reporting System for official records. Data shown here is current through 11/02/2020.
Total raised
Total spending
Itemized individual contributions
From committees
Note: Self-financing includes candidate contributions and campaign loans. Prior to Jan. 17, 2019, these figures underreported fundraising for state candidates by omitting unitemized contributions. Unitemized contribution totals, which include small-dollar donations, are calculated here by subtracting itemized cash contributions from reported fundraising totals.

Contributions by zip code: Greg Gianforte (R)

Portion of itemized fundraising from Montana donors
Itemized individual contributions
Number at $710 contribution limit
Note: Individual donors are limited to giving $710 per election to gubernatorial candidates and $360 per election to candidates for other statewide offices, with the primary and general contests counted as separate elections.

On the issues

Issue statements were solicited from active candidates via a written questionnaire before the June primary election. Answers were lightly edited for punctuation and spelling.

Particularly in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, what policies would you propose to help provide Montana workers with access to good jobs?

We face a serious challenge. While COVID-19 has threatened our health and safety, it’s also threatened our livelihood. Too many folks find themselves out of work and without a paycheck. Too many businesses have had to shut down.

My top priority as governor is to get our economy going again, get Montanans back to work in good-paying jobs, and get Montana open for business. As the only candidate who’s built a business and created good-paying jobs in Montana, I know what it takes, and I’ll roll up my sleeves and start working on it immediately.

I’ll work to create an environment where businesses can grow and create good-paying jobs. We must reform our tax code and reduce regulations that hold back the pistons that drive our economy – ag, energy, mining, timber, natural resources, high tech, and travel, tourism, and hospitality.

I’ll promote computer programming in our schools and expand trades education and apprenticeships to ensure Montana workers have the skills they need to succeed.

If the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic causes a state budget crisis, how would you propose to address it? If you support tax increases, who specifically should pay more? If you support budget cuts, where specifically would you look to make cuts? (We assume that working to minimize waste, fraud and abuse is a given.)

The COVID-19 outbreak has caused great uncertainty. As governor, my top priority is to get our economy going again, get Montana open for business, and get Montanans back to work in good-paying jobs.

We don’t know what the state budget will look like, but when our economy rebounds, revenues will rebound.

We can recover from this crisis without raising taxes. I will not raise taxes, and I oppose a sales tax. Period.

As your governor, I’ll bring greater accountability to state government. We have many dedicated state workers, but for too long, they haven’t been led well. As a business leader, I assembled effective teams, provided them a clear mission, held them accountable, and celebrated their success.

I’ll bring that same model to state government. I’ll conduct a comprehensive review of state agencies both to eliminate waste and inefficiencies and to bring clarity of mission. We’ll ensure agencies have the resources they need to succeed and return any excess to the general fund.

If elected governor, how would you attempt to bridge partisan divides to work with Montanans who don't share your political orientation in order to ensure their concerns are considered by your administration?

Good ideas can come from anyone. That’s true in business, and it’s true in government.

In my experience serving Montana in Congress, the only way to get things done is by working with folks in both parties. I’d have Democratic and Republican members of Congress over for dinner and grill Montana beef or moose burgers. It helped me build strong relationships to advance an agenda that puts Montana first. My first bill that President Trump signed into law was a bipartisan effort protecting public access to our Montana public lands. My second was bipartisan and increases job opportunities for Montanans.

I’ll bring that same approach to the governor’s office. I’m eager to work with anyone who has a good idea to get Montana back on track. When it comes down to it, I’ll always be on Montana’s side and will work with someone regardless of party or ideology to get the job done.

Should Montana’s minimum wage of $8.65 an hour be raised to $15 an hour, as some advocate?

As we confront the COVID-19 outbreak and its economic fallout, our focus must be on getting our economy going again, getting Montana open for business, and getting folks back to work in good-paying jobs.

With a minimum wage increase to $15 an hour, Montana would lose more than 8,000 jobs. At a time when folks are out of work and struggling to make ends meet, we shouldn’t focus on policies that could hurt jobs.

Before this crisis, however, Montana ranked near the bottom of wages. That’s one of the reasons I’m running for governor.

Too many Montanans across our state have told me their kids and grandkids moved away for better opportunities — better jobs for better pay. Sadly, our state’s most valuable export is our kids and grandkids. We must reverse that trend.

We must create greater opportunities and more good-paying jobs for Montanans to thrive here. When we do, our kids and grandkids will stay here or return, and the American dream will be within greater reach to more Montanans.

Do you favor legalizing marijuana use in Montana beyond the state’s existing medical marijuana program? If so, what sideboards would be appropriate?

Medical marijuana can help patients manage chronic pain under the care of a doctor, and I support continuing the legality of medical marijuana in our state, as long as the industry remains well-managed for public safety.

Marijuana is considered a Schedule I drug. At a congressional hearing this year, I asked an expert with the National Institutes of Health whether there is a connection between marijuana use and an increased risk of mental health problems. She acknowledged some studies have shown a link between regular marijuana use and an increased risk for suicide. She also said more research is needed.

Based on a lack of sound science about recreational marijuana, its health impact and how it would affect our communities, I oppose making recreational marijuana legal.

Our focus shouldn’t be on legalizing marijuana. Our focus should be on ending the scourge of opioid and meth addiction that’s gripping our communities — a public health crisis impacting far too many Montanans.

What steps would you support as governor to reduce the number of missing and murdered indigenous people in Montana?

Last year, Kaysera Stops Pretty Places disappeared. Days later, her body was found beside a wood pile in Hardin. The circumstances of her disappearance and death are unknown.

We face an epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women. They’re our sisters, daughters, and granddaughters. They deserve justice, and so do their families.

Last year, I met with Montanans in each of our 56 counties and the eight recognized tribal governments. I heard about the challenges to ending this crisis. We must do better.

When someone goes missing, time is of the essence. Improving cooperation among local, state, tribal and federal governments is critical. In Congress, I introduced Savanna’s Act to improve communication among law enforcement. With these improved tools, we can start finding answers and prevent tragedies.

There is more we must do — for Kaysera Stops Pretty Places and the thousands of missing indigenous women. As governor, I’ll use the full resources of the office to end this crisis.

Do you support state-funded pre-K education? If so, should pre-K schools run by churches or private entities be eligible for funding?

At this point, we don’t know the outlook of our state’s finances coming out of the COVID-19 crisis, and we must be responsible, careful and thoughtful about making new fiscal commitments.

The principle that guides my education policies is ensuring every child can reach his or her potential.

As I talk with teachers across the state, I’ve heard one clear message: not enough money gets to the classroom. Our education dollars should be going to our classrooms, students and teachers — not eaten up by bureaucracy.

One public school teacher in Montana told me he’s unable to live on the salary he receives. While he makes sure his kids eat three meals a day, he hasn’t eaten three a day for over a year. He told me he relies on free food at school to survive. This shouldn’t happen, and we must do better.

As governor, I will work to attract and retain the best teachers. To achieve that goal, we need to pay our teachers more, and we need to eliminate education regulations and mandates.

Should the state incarcerate fewer people? If so, are there specific criminal justice reform measures you support?

Law enforcement officers tell me drugs contribute to over 90% of crimes. Drug use also contributes to the breakdown of the family with over 4,000 Montana kids in foster care.

As governor, I will take a two-pronged approach to confronting drugs.

First, we must focus on prevention and on promoting treatment and recovery for non-violent addicts. Locking them up doesn’t help them get clean and healthy.

Treatment courts work. Three years after completing treatment court, 70% of graduates are clean and holding a job. Not only do treatment courts help addicts rebuild their lives, they cost a fraction of incarceration.

Too many counties, however, don’t have a treatment court. As governor, I’ll work to expand this successful program into more communities.

Second, we must crack down on drug dealers. As governor, I’ll make sure we aggressively pursue and prosecute dealers who push drugs into our communities. Dealers and cartels need to know they’re not welcome in Montana.

As governor, how would you ensure that journalists who cover your administration on citizens’ behalf have ample opportunity to understand how you are governing the state? Specifically, would you pledge to 1) Conduct weekly press briefings? And 2) Provide the public with comprehensive daily calendars detailing whom you have met with in your official capacity as governor?

As your congressman, I’ve been interviewed hundreds of times on television and radio. We’ve held monthly town halls that reach about 100,000 Montanans for each event. We’ve been accessible and responsive to Montana journalists.

And I’ll bring that same approach to the governor’s office, emphasizing direct outreach, accessibility, transparency, and accountability.

Montana political candidates often tout their Montana roots and face criticism if they were born and raised elsewhere. Is it important for the governor to be a lifelong Montanan?

As we face the COVID-19 outbreak and its fallout, we should focus on our plans for the future and how we can guide Montana through the recovery. As I talk with folks across our state, they want to know when their lives will return to normal, when they’ll get back to work, and when their businesses will reopen. Questions about where someone was born seem petty and small when we have so much to do to recover.

I first came to Montana 44 years ago. I knew at the end of that trip Montana was going to be home. My wife Susan and I chose Montana. We raised our four kids in our Bozeman home, and Montana is where we built our business, creating one of the state's largest employers. Montana is home.

My top priority as governor is to get our economy going again, get Montanans back to work in good-paying jobs, and get Montana open for business. As the only candidate who built a business and created good-paying jobs here in Montana, I know what it takes, and I’ll start working on it immediately.

Stay tuned for more

We'll be updating this page with new information through Election Day in November 2020.

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