Steve Bullock vs. Greg Gianforte: Nonpartisan Candidate Guide For 2016 Montana Governor’s Race

Are you looking for a nonpartisan voter guide for the Steve Bullock vs. Greg Gianforte Governor’s race? One that will give you an accurate, no-spin comparison of the candidates’ positions on key issues? Our Campus Election Engagement Project is a national nonpartisan initiative working to increase student electoral participation. At the request of the schools we work with, we’ve created concise nonpartisan candidate guides for the presidential race, for the importance of the 2016 election on future Supreme Court decisions, and for 20 Senate and Governor’s races, including this Governor’s race. Our lead researcher spent 19 years as a senior editor at Encyclopedia Britannica, and we invite readers to share this and our other guides as widely as possible

So here are the issue-by-issue stands for Steve Bullock and Greg Gianforte. Visit our Nonpartisan Candidate Guides home page to find links to all our other guides, with most available in both online/mobile friendly and printable PDF formats.

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Abortion: Should abortion be highly restricted?

Bullock: No. “Complicated & difficult decision that shouldn’t be made by the government.” Also supports funding comprehensive family planning.

Gianforte: Yes. Has also been a strong financial supporter of anti-abortion organizations.

Campaign Finance: Do you support increasing restrictions on campaign donations?

Bullock: Yes. Initiated court case opposing Citizen’s United. Advocated for MT’s 2015 state Disclose Act.[1]

Gianforte: States support for election transparency, but has donated significantly to groups that fought MT Disclose Act.[2]

Climate Change: Believe that human activity is the major factor driving climate change?

Bullock: Yes. Agrees that climate change is real & the impacts must be addressed.

Gianforte: Unclear

Climate Change: Should government limit the levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere?

Bullock: Agrees in principle, but strongly defends Montana coal operations, so has often opposed related regulations. Wants to expand renewable energy sources & also more low-carbon coal processes.[3]

Gianforte: No. Believes regulations will hurt MT jobs. Specifically opposes Obama EPA rulings as federal overreach. Also wants “somebody from industry” running MT’s Department of Environmental Quality.

Education: Support increasing funding for K-12 education?

Bullock: Yes. Seeks to fund it beyond the 2013 state funding formula.

Gianforte: Unclear. Focus has been on making public funding available for religious & private schools & for training students in computer science and in trades.[4]

Education: Provide vouchers to parents to send their children to private schools with public money?

Bullock: Opposes diverting public dollars to private education. Vetoed 2013 bill but allowed 2015 bill to pass.

Gianforte: Yes. Strong supporter of helping children attend religious or private schools with vouchers or tax credits.[5]

Education: Increase public funding for higher education?

Bullock: Yes. Has secured more funding and also instituted tuition freezes. Seeks to secure additional funding.

Gianforte: Unclear

Gay Rights: Support gay marriage and related LGBT issues?

Bullock: Yes. In 2015 became the first MT governor to officiate a same-sex marriage. Expanded MT nondiscrimination law to include sexual orientation & gender identity for state employees & government contractors.[6]

Gianforte: Supports nondiscrimination for employees but not for customers. Lobbied against LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance in 2014. Financial supporter of anti-gay marriage groups.[7]

Gun Control: Enact more restrictive gun control legislation?

Bullock: Keep status quo. Has vetoed expansive gun rights bills that would have allowed conceal & carry without a permit & carrying of guns on campus.[8]

Gianforte: No. Considers gun rights to be absolute & should not be infringed in any way. Strongly opposes Bullock’s vetoes of expansive gun rights bills or federal gun rights restrictions.[9]

Healthcare: Repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare?

Bullock: No

Gianforte: Believes it is unaffordable & new solutions must be found, but won’t “pull the rug out” from under people receiving benefits.

Healthcare: Accept federal funds so Medicaid will cover people earning up to 138% of the federal poverty line?

Bullock: Yes. Expanded Medicaid in MT, adding coverage for up to 70,000 more Montanans.

Gianforte: Concerned about cost & accepting too much federal money, but won’t reject funds at present.

Marijuana: Decriminalize and/or legalize marijuana?

Bullock: Previous defense of medical marijuana laws, by opposing IR 124 in 2012. Stance on 2016 ballot initiative unclear.

Gianforte: Unknown, including view of 2016 ballot initiative to expand medical marijuana eligibility.

Minimum Wage: Raise the minimum wage?

Bullock: Yes

Gianforte: No

Prisons: Switch money from prisons to preventive measures like education and social services?

Bullock: Yes. Supports commission currently working with national experts to identify these options.

Gianforte: Unknown

Renewable Energy: Support government mandates and/or subsidies for renewable energy?

Bullock: Yes. Has supported state’s renewable energy requirement, but also supports MT fossil fuel industries. Wants to develop clean coal solutions.

Gianforte: Strong support for MT fossil fuel industries. Mentions renewable energy, but advocacy is focused on supporting fossil fuel jobs.

Taxes: Increase taxes on corporations and/or high-income individuals to pay for public services?

Bullock: Has worked to reduce taxes on businesses & most individuals. Vetoed bill to lower top earner tax rate.

Gianforte: No. Pledged to oppose “any or all” tax increases to raise revenue. Wants to cut business & personal taxes and reduce size of government, even though his proposals may affect ongoing public services.

Voting Rights: Support stricter voting rules such as voter ID requirements or reduced registration times, even if they prevent some people from voting?

Bullock: No. Believes voting should be easier rather than harder. Opposed repeal of Election Day registration.

Gianforte: Unclear

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Other gubernatorial candidates include Ted Dunlap (L). Due to limited space, we can’t include his positions, but invite you to check out his website.

Created by the Campus Election Engagement Project, a non-partisan effort to help college and university administrators, faculty, and student leaders engage their schools in the election. Key sites consulted included Votesmart.org, Ballotpedia.org, Countable.us, OntheIssues.org, FactCheck.org , Politifact.com, and public candidate statements. For a guide to all races, see Vote411.org, from the League of Women Voters, and Ballotready.org.

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[1] Initiated 2011 case to Supreme Court challenging Citizen’s United decision allowing unlimited corporate campaign donations; supported and signed 2015 Montana Disclose Act requiring disclosure of campaign contributions.

[2] Doesn’t accept PAC money & limits individual contributions, largely self-funded his campaign. As a private citizen has funded efforts to oppose the Act and his campaign lawyer is part of legal team challenging the Act.

[3] Opposes federal pollution limits on fracking, believing states should regulate the oil and gas industry. Endorsed Keystone XL pipeline. Opposes some elements of Obama’s 2016 Clean Power Act, especially lack of focus on cleaner coal processes.

[4] See candidate education comparisons in Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

[6] Expanded prohibitions against discrimination, but MT’s Attorney General joined law suit against federal government over LBGT bathroom policies and Bullock avoided public statement of his reaction to MT joining the suit.

[7] Endorses nondiscrimination for employees including those in his own business. But says businesses should be able to decide who they serve, including decisions based on religious beliefs. Contributes heavily to organizations that oppose same-sex marriage.