Q: “What issues will the next governor have to address?”
A: “At this point I’m simply exploring running governor…now I can raise money.”
Greg Gianforte filed papers today to run for Governor, filling out and depositing a form known as a C-1, on which the candidate must state which office he is seeking, and naming a treasurer and deputy treasurer. He then did some interviews with the press.
The good news is that he is a novice for sure. A few observations: First, let’s see who he appointed as his first two campaign personnel members, his treasurer and deputy treasurer. They are Lorna Kuney and Phoebe Williams. Kuney is a Helena republican fixture, her name having popped up before as treasurer of political campaigns. Phoebe Williams was a legislative candidate in 2010, who lost in a three-way primary. They are daughter and granddaughter of Tim Babcock. In other words, Gianforte’s political antenna might not be a very tall structure. A treasurer’s name is on every yard sign and campaign item, and is an opportunity to stay as far away from Helena as possible in every way when running for Governor, and especially if you are claiming the “outsider” mantle. Instead, he came up with names that provide no political value at all, geographically or otherwise.
Second, let’s look at his first day of press as candidate. Gianforte was asked by a Helena IR reporter what issues he planned to address in a campaign. His response was that he didn’t yet know, but that he planned to talk to a lot of voters to see what issues they might suggest. That’s about as bad a response as you can possibly give. When you run for office, presumably you have an idea as to why you want to be governor, a purpose, which is why you are running to begin with. And that’s especially so when you are trying to make an argument to unseat an incumbent. Gianforte, however, clearly has nothing in mind.
Also today, Montana Public Radio aired an unedited interview with Greg Gianforte, almost a half hour. Again, Gianforte could not answer the question as to what he’d do as the head of state government. “I’d like to get the facts, diverse views, have a robust discussion,” and then decide, he said. He said that he believes in government, people focus “too much on details” and that we should focus more on staying away from details, “rather than the bigger picture.”
The reporter asked, “What issues will the next governor have to address?” “At this point I’m simply exploring running for governor…now I can raise money.” Asked about Medicaid Expansion, and whether it was right or wrong in terms of the legislative vote, he refused to answer and in fact appeared not to have anticipated that the question would even be asked. Are you a billionaire? No, Gianforte answered. Didn’t it sell for 1.8 Billion to Oracle? Yes, he answered, but we raised wages in Montana because of our stock options plan. What role does your faith play in politics? My primary focus is job creation.
“This is not about Greg, it’s about what’s best for the state,” he said, channeling his inner hollywood actor or professional athlete.
And MTPR became the first and only reporter to ask Gianforte to explain his sponsorship of a religious museum in Glendive, where dioramas describe places like the Museum of Natural History as nothing more than “brainwashers” when they teach that the earth is more than 4,000 years old. Gianforte says he’s “impressed with the dinosaur displays,” which include displays about how dinosaurs lived with people, like the Flintstones. And he said young people should be presented with diverse views and taught “how to think, not what to think.”
The Democrats put out a statement immediately upon his filing this form, accusing him of being a New Jersey billionaire who is in support of job killing policies and is opposed to social security, and referenced Gianforte’s comments, made earlier this year, in which he said retirement is not in the bible and thus seniors have no basis for “sitting around cashing social security checks.”
One thing omitted from the statement from the Democratic party was perhaps the most salient attack on Gianforte: that he built his own business by outsourcing jobs to countries like India and Pakistan and helping other companies do the same. It’s unclear why the Dems do not mention this, but I hope it isn’t because of Gianforte’s baseless lawsuit filed by Gianforte in 2012 to get them to stop talking about outsourcing (they stopped). Gianforte is now a candidate and thus a public figure, fully so, and cannot use the courts to force a political party to correct a statement. And, the statement has been true all along.