By SHARIE PYKE - For The Outpost
Remember your kindergarten report card, “Works and plays well with others?” Steve Bullock, the Democratic candidate for governor of Montana, ranks his ability to work with everyone in the Montana Legislature, whatever the party affiliation, as his greatest achievement in his four-year term as attorney general.
“It’s stunning to me that you can’t have some conversation. I went and spoke with Mike Milburn (House) and Ken Peterson (Senate) and they agreed that if my bills died, it wouldn’t be for political reasons,” Mr. Bullock said, speaking at a women’s roundtable in Billings recently.
He even had a meeting of the minds with Krayton Kerns. “If you can build bridges with the head of the Tea Party caucus, you can build bridges.” During the 2011 legislative session, all of Bullock’s initiatives passed, and nine of the 12 bills he introduced.
The attorney general also strongly supports women’s health issues. “My mom, Penny Copp, was on the school board in Helena when I was growing up. She fought to have ‘Our Bodies, Ourselves’ in the school library, and she made me read it.”
He also has two daughters and wants them to have the same power over their own lives, when they’re adults, that their brother will have.
“The hand that rocks the cradle is the one that rules the world,” wrote Kentuckian William Ross Wallace in 1865. Cradles may now be passe, but Montana women now have the power to rock the state. They make up the largest identifiable bloc of registered voters. And there’s a lot at stake in November for women.
“This is a critical election for women’s health issues,” said Bullock. “And the positions are diametrically opposed. We’ve even got a political ad comparing women to pregnancy-tested cows. I want to make sure that the day after the election, we’re not saying, ‘If only we’d done a little bit more for women’s health care issues.’”
“The worst part of all this is that you can’t even have a conversation. We should be able to find common ground. Montana is a place where we actually have dialogue with each other, ranchers with environmentalists, etc. I think that we still have a chance to cut through this.”
Steve Bullock said he has personally talked with close to 10,000 voters. “What we’re all hearing is that people are sick of the attack ads on TV. We can continue to fight Citizens United, the Koch brothers and their friends. … It’s David vs. Goliath, but you know who won that one.”
He also touts his record as Montana’s AG. He introduced the 24-7 Program to fight DUI, a system that requires repeat offenders to give a Breathalyzer test twice a day at their expense.
An average of 300 Montanans die each year from an overdose of prescription drugs. To combat that, he has also worked to create a centralized prescription registry, so that abusers can’t fill prescriptions for the same medication at several different pharmacies. He has also introduced legislation to retain public access for hunting and fishing.
Mr. Bullock also talked on privatizing education. “It’s a national agenda,” he said. And not something that he thinks is relevant in Montana. “Let’s not import issues that don’t exist in our state.”
At the finish of the round table discussion, AG Bullock reminded the attendees that though it was wonderful that Montana women vote, they needed to encourage the men in their lives to vote as well. He ended with an appeal to young people.
“You 19- to 29-year-olds have the lowest voting numbers, yet you have the most at stake. We need to keep higher education affordable. So get registered.”
His biggest objective, should he be elected governor, is simple, but not easy. “I want to bring people around to a common vision. We don’t want to go backward. That’s not good for any of us.”