Steve Bullock (American politician)

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Steve Bullock
Steve Bullock.jpg
24th Governor of Montana
Assumed office
January 7, 2013
Lieutenant John Walsh
Angela McLean
Mike Cooney
Preceded by Brian Schweitzer
23rd Attorney General of Montana
In office
January 5, 2009 – January 7, 2013
Governor Brian Schweitzer
Preceded by Mike McGrath
Succeeded by Tim Fox
Personal details
Born Stephen Clark Bullock
(1966-04-11) April 11, 1966 (age 51)
Missoula, Montana, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Lisa Downs (m. 1999)
Residence Montana Governor's Residence
Education Claremont McKenna College (B.A.)
Columbia Law School (J.D.)

Stephen Clark Bullock (born April 11, 1966) is an American politician and lawyer serving as the 24th and current Governor of Montana. He is a member of the Democratic Party.

Born in Missoula, Montana, Bullock is a graduate of Claremont McKenna College and Columbia Law School. Bullock began his career working as the legal counsel to the Secretary of State of Montana before becoming the Executive Assistant Attorney General and acting Chief Deputy Attorney General of Montana. Bullock then entered private practice as an attorney for Steptoe & Johnson. He was also an adjunct professor at the George Washington University Law School before opening his own private law firm upon returning to Montana. In 2008, Bullock was elected Attorney General of Montana, where he served one term from 2009 to 2013.

After incumbent Governor Brian Schweitzer was term-limited, Bullock declared his candidacy for the Governorship on September 7, 2011. He won with 87% of the vote in the Democratic primary election, and defeated the Republican nominee, former U.S. Representative Rick Hill, in the general election, with 48% of the vote.

In 2016, Bullock won re-election with 50.2% of the vote, defeating Republican nominee Greg Gianforte.

He has been mentioned as a possible candidate for President of the United States in the 2020 U.S. presidential election.[1][2]

Early life, education, and law career[edit]

Bullock was born in Missoula, Montana and raised in Helena, the state capital. He is the son of Penny, a school board trustee, and Mike Bullock, a teacher and administrator.[3]

He graduated from Helena High School in 1984.[4] He received his undergraduate degree from Claremont McKenna College and his law degree with honors from Columbia Law School in New York.[5]

Bullock served as chief legal counsel to Montana Secretary of State Mike Cooney. He went on to work for four years with the Montana Department of Justice under Attorney General Joe Mazurek, first as executive assistant attorney general, and later as acting chief deputy (1997–2001).[6] During this time, he also served as legislative director, coordinating the Attorney General's legislative efforts. As an Assistant Attorney General, Bullock wrote the landmark opinion that guaranteed public access to streams and rivers.

He was unsuccessful in his first race for Montana Attorney General, losing in the 2000 Democratic primary to Mike McGrath, who went on to be elected Attorney General that year and currently serves as Chief Justice of the Montana Supreme Court.[7] From 2001 to 2004, Bullock practiced law with the Washington, D.C. firm of Steptoe & Johnson. While there, he also served as an adjunct professor at George Washington University Law School. Bullock returned to Montana in 2004, working in private practice in Helena where he represented individuals, consumer organizations, labor unions, peace officers, associations of political subdivisions, and small and large businesses.[8] He ran successfully for Attorney General in 2008.[9]

Attorney General[edit]

Bullock was the Democratic nominee for Attorney General in 2008, defeating two other candidates in the primary election in June. Bullock then went on to win the contested general election race with 52.64% of the vote against Republican Tim Fox. Bullock received 245,669 votes, more than either presidential candidate.[9]

Bullock pushed for tougher drunken driving laws and a crackdown on prescription drug abuse.[10] He introduced the 24/7 Sobriety Program for repeat DUI offenders statewide.[11] This program requires repeat drunk drivers to take breath tests twice a day. The program is aimed at keeping highways and communities free of drunk drivers, and keeping non-violent offenders out of jail and off the public rolls. The program has had success in dropping DUI offenses.[12]

The Attorney General’s office also pursued the railroad industry for monopolistic business practices,[13][14] and led the way in stopping an anti-competitive merger between two the largest meat packers in the country.[15] Bullock focused on the misclassification of employees as independent contractors and allowing FedEx to avoid paying millions in state taxes and fees. Bullock's efforts resulted in changes by FedEx to comply with federal and state laws.[16]

Bullock attracted national attention by challenging the Citizens United decision through his defense of Montana’s 100-year-old ban on corporate campaign expenditures.[17] After winning in the Montana Supreme Court, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the State of Montana in a 5-4 decision.[18][19]

Bullock, who authored the state's opinion guaranteeing access to rivers, streams, and public lands, worked with the legislature and Governor Brian Schweitzer to codify the access opinion into law.[20]

Governor of Montana[edit]

Bullock at a campaign event in Glasgow, Montana, October 31, 2012.


Bullock announced on September 7, 2011 that he would be a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Montana in 2012.[21] In the Democratic primary, Bullock faced off against Helena resident Heather Margolis. Bullock won with 87% of the vote.[22]

Bullock and his running mate, then Adjutant General of Montana John Walsh, proposed a jobs plan that focuses on small and medium-sized Montana businesses as the engines of job creation. Bullock and Gen. Walsh call for:[23]

  • Streamlining the regulatory permitting process and establishing a new permit tracking system,
  • Ensuring that government services meet the demands of job creators,
  • Supporting rapid growth in eastern Montana by making sure communities receive funds before or in preparation for natural resource development rather than afterwards,
  • Promoting the hiring of Montanans first for jobs inside the state paid for by taxpayers’ money,
  • Expanding in-state business activity to create a business climate that spurs faster expansion and greater business-to-business activity among Montana companies,
  • Further reforming Montana’s workers’ compensation system to reduce the number of workers who are injured or killed on the job, getting injured workers back to work as soon as possible and controlling medical costs.
  • Requiring major firms that are awarded state contracts to subcontract a substantial percentage of their work to in-state businesses.

Bullock proposed a $400 property tax rebate for homeowners in Montana to spur job creation and refund a portion of the state’s $400 million budget surplus.[24]

John Walsh, Bullock’s running mate, is the former Adjutant General of the Montana National Guard.[25] Bullock won the election, held on November 6, 2012, defeating Republican ex-US Representative Rick Hill.[26] Bullock came out on top by 7,571 votes, or 48.9%, to Hill’s 47.3%. Libertarian candidate Ron Vandevender pulled 3.8% of the vote.[27]

In September 2014, Bullock signed an executive order creating a habitat conservation plan for sage grouse in a bid to keep management of the imperiled bird in state hands rather than see it come under strict federal Endangered Species Act protections. The government said to the press: "Montanans recognize that it is in the best interest of our state, its economy and our quality of life to maintain state management of the greater sage-grouse."[28]

First term[edit]

Governor Bullock and his lieutenant governor, John Walsh, were sworn in on January 7, 2013.[29] Bullock later appointed Walsh to become the new Senator from Montana to replace Max Baucus, who had been appointed Ambassador to China. Bullock then appointed Angela McLean to replace Walsh as lieutenant governor.

In November 2015, McLean announced her resignation as lieutenant governor, effective upon the appointment of her successor, in order to accept the position of director of American Indian and minority achievement in the office of the state commissioner of higher education.[30]

In December 2015, Bullock announced the appointment of Mike Cooney as McLean's replacement. Cooney was sworn in on January 4, 2016.[31]

According to a September 20, 2016, survey by Morning Consult, Bullock, with a 66% approval rating and a 19% disapproval rating, was the most popular Democratic governor in the United States, as well as the fourth-most popular overall, behind Republicans Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota, Larry Hogan of Maryland, and Charlie Baker of Massachusetts.[32]

Electoral history[edit]

Montana's Attorney General Democratic Primary Election, 2000[33]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Mike McGrath 61,400 70.02
Democratic Steve Bullock 26,291 29.98
Montana's Attorney General Democratic Primary Election, 2008[34]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Steve Bullock 63,276 42.04
Democratic Mike Wheat 54,859 36.45
Democratic John Parker 32,362 21.50
Montana's Attorney General Election, 2008[35]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Steve Bullock 245,669 52.64
Republican Tim Fox 220,992 47.36
Montana's Gubernatorial Democratic Primary Election, 2012[36]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Steve Bullock/John Walsh 76,738 86.65
Democratic Heather Margolis/Steve Nelsen 11,823 13.35
Montana's Gubernatorial Election, 2012[37]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Steve Bullock/John Walsh 236,450 48.90
Republican Rick Hill/Jon Sonju 228,879 47.34
Libertarian Ron Vandevender/Marc Mulcahy 18,160 3.76
Montana's Gubernatorial Democratic Primary Election, 2016[38]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Steve Bullock/Mike Cooney (Incumbent) 111,675 91.22
Democratic Bill McChesney/Mike Anderson 10,744 8.78
Montana's Gubernatorial Election, 2016[39]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Steve Bullock/Mike Cooney (Incumbent) 255,933 50.25
Republican Greg Gianforte/Lesley Robinson 236,115 46.36
Libertarian Ted Dunlap/Ron Vandevender 17,312 3.39


  1. ^ "Why I left Elizabeth Warren off my 2020 presidential list (and why I was wrong)". Washington Post. Retrieved May 24, 2017. 
  2. ^ Egan, Timothy (December 23, 2016). "Red State Hope for Democratic Blues". Retrieved May 24, 2017 – via 
  3. ^ "Bullock vows to create jobs and protect union rights",; accessed September 17, 2015.
  4. ^ "Attorney General Steve Bullock". Montana Department of Justice. Retrieved September 17, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Attorney General Steve Bullock profile". Montana Department of Justice. Retrieved September 17, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Attorney General Steve Bullock". Montana Department of Justice. 
  7. ^ "2000 Statewide General Canvass" (PDF). Montana Secretary of State. 
  8. ^ "Attorney General Steve Bullock". Montana Department of Justice. 
  9. ^ a b "2008 Statewide General Canvass" (PDF). Montana Secretary of State. 
  10. ^ "Prescription Drug Abuse: What We're Doing". Montana Department of Justice. 
  11. ^ "MT Senate Committee passes 24/7 Sobriety Program". KPAX. 
  12. ^ "Daily Testing keeps most DUI suspects sober". The Billings Gazette. 
  13. ^ "Montana AG sues Burlington Northern to cover some rail costs". Missoulian. 
  14. ^ "Bullock: State must protect agricultural producers". Missoulian. 
  15. ^ "Montana leads 16-state effort to save small farms and ranches". Missoulian. 
  16. ^ "FedEx settles with Montana over classification of delivery drivers". The Missoulian. 
  17. ^ "Montana—Big Sky, Clean Politics". LA Times. 
  18. ^ "Clean and Fair Elections". Montana Department of Justice. 
  19. ^ "Court Declines to Revisit its Citizens United Decision". New York Times. 
  20. ^ "Bridge Access Bill Now Law". Public Land and Water Access Association, Inc. 
  21. ^ "Bullock announces Democratic run for governor via internet, Billings event". Missoulian. 
  22. ^ "Bullock, Hill win governor primaries". Billings Gazette. 
  23. ^ "A Jobs Plan for Montana: Part 1: Creating Opportunities for Small Business" (PDF). 
  24. ^ "Bullock Proposes $400 tax rebates for Montana homeowners". The Missoulian. 
  25. ^ "Democrat Bullock taps former Montana adjutant general for lieutenant governor". The Missoulian. 
  26. ^ Networks Declare Bullock Winner in Tight Race for Governor, The Billings Gazette by Charles S. Johnson, Gazette State Bureau. November 6, 2012. Retrieved November 7, 2012.
  27. ^ Michael Barone, et al. The Almanac of American Politics 2014 (2013) (Kindle Locations 48242-48245).
  28. ^ Zuckermann, Laura. "Montana governor issues sage grouse conservation plan". Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  29. ^ Bureau, Gazette State. "Bullock invites residents to inauguration ceremony". Retrieved May 24, 2017. 
  30. ^ Dennison, Mike (November 30, 2015). "Lt. Gov. McLean resigning to take higher-ed job". KRTV-TV. Great Falls, MT. 
  31. ^ Holly Michels. "Mike Cooney chosen as Montana's next lieutenant governor". Helena Independent Record. Retrieved 15 February 2016. 
  32. ^ Carter, Troy (September 20, 2016). "Morning Consult: Bullock approval rating at 66 percent". Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Retrieved March 16, 2017. 
  33. ^ Cooney, Mike. "2000 STATEWIDE PRIMARY CANVASS - JUNE 6, 2000" (PDF). Secretary of State of Montana. Secretary of State Mike Cooney. Retrieved 17 December 2017. 
  34. ^ Johnson, Brad. "2008 STATEWIDE PRIMARY CANVASS - JUNE 3rd, 2008" (PDF). Secretary of State of Montana. Secretary of State Brad Johnson. Retrieved 17 December 2017. 
  35. ^ Johnson, Brad. "2008 STATEWIDE GENERAL CANVASS - NOVEMBER 4th, 2008" (PDF). Secretary of State of Montana. Secretary of State Brad Johnson. Retrieved 17 December 2017. 
  36. ^ McCulloch, Linda. "2012 STATEWIDE PRIMARY ELECTION CANVASS" (PDF). Secretary of State of Montana. Secretary of State Linda McCulloch. Retrieved 17 December 2017. 
  37. ^ McCulloch, Linda. "2012 STATEWIDE GENERAL ELECTION CANVASS" (PDF). Secretary of State of Montana. Secretary of State Linda McCulloch. Retrieved 17 December 2017. 
  38. ^ McCulloch, Linda. "2016 STATEWIDE PRIMARY ELECTION CANVASS" (PDF). Secretary of State of Montana. Secretary of State Linda McCulloch. Retrieved 17 December 2017. 
  39. ^ McCulloch, Linda. "2016 STATEWIDE GENERAL ELECTION CANVASS" (PDF). Secretary of State of Montana. Secretary of State Linda McCulloch. Retrieved 17 December 2017. 

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Mike McGrath
Attorney General of Montana
Succeeded by
Tim Fox
Party political offices
Preceded by
Brian Schweitzer
Democratic nominee for Governor of Montana
2012, 2016
Most recent
Preceded by
Peter Shumlin
Chair of the Democratic Governors Association
Succeeded by
Dan Malloy
Political offices
Preceded by
Brian Schweitzer
Governor of Montana
Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Mike Pence
as Vice President
Order of Precedence of the United States
Within Montana
Succeeded by
Mayor of city
in which event is held
Succeeded by
Otherwise Paul Ryan
as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Dennis Daugaard
as Governor of South Dakota
Order of Precedence of the United States
Outside Montana
Succeeded by
Jay Inslee
as Governor of Washington