Montana Newspapers Gave Harsh Words for Gianforte

Bullock’s clean sweep of endorsements include tough criticisms of New Jersey millionaire

“Should not be in charge of the budget” … “Troubling” … “Has shown little patience” … “Lacks that crucial commitment to quality education” … “Has not directly answered questions” … “Tendency to shut down discussion.” … “Unwilling to share with the public.”

These words describing New Jersey millionaire Greg Gianforte do not come from Steve Bullock or his campaign, or even his supporters.  They’re the words of Montana’s top newspaper editorial boards, which unanimously endorsed Bullock’s reelection in recent days.

Bullock earned the endorsements after meeting with the Billings Gazette, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the Helena Independent-Record, Butte’s Montana Standard and the Missoulian.  All five newspapers—the only major newspapers making endorsements this election—praised Bullock and they candidly shared their criticisms of Gianforte.

Billings Gazette:

“Greg Gianforte, Bullock’s Republican challenger, lacks that crucial commitment to quality education for all. He should not be in charge of the budget where public K-college education is a major expense area.”

“…Running the state of Montana is much different than operating a private business. The state is expected to serve far-flung residents in small communities, and residents of cities up to and larger than 100,000. It isn’t always cost-effective to deliver public services over a large area, but it’s necessary.”

Bozeman Daily Chronicle:

“Gianforte has campaigned on improving the state’s economy, but his case is not compelling enough to unseat the incumbent… While Gianforte’s campaign advertising paints a picture of crisis in the state, the evidence indicates the contrary.”

“Gianforte told this editorial board earlier this year that he would not have supported even one of Bullock’s vetoes from the 2015 legislative session. That’s a concern.”

“[Gianforte’s] public opposition to Bozeman’s nondiscrimination ordinance could portend his opposition to increased tolerance statewide. That’s troubling. It could also send the kind of negative message to businesses looking to relocate that has hurt other states where intolerant legislation was signed into law.

“[Gianforte’s] ads are clearly aimed at inciting baseless fears.”

Helena Independent-Record:

“While we agree with some of Gianforte’s arguments, we don’t believe any of them rise to a level that justifies interrupting the work of our current governor and starting over from scratch.”

“…We are skeptical about the feasibility of Gianforte’s aggressive job-creation strategy, particularly his plans to completely freeze state spending and eliminate the business equipment tax in four years...And we couldn’t help but notice that Montana’s existing business climate has worked out pretty well for Gianforte.."

Montana Standard:

“It is not at all clear to us that Gianforte’s proven business acumen would translate to more efficiency in government or more growth for the state. We are particularly concerned with his desire to put someone with ‘industry experience’ at the helm of the Department of Environmental Quality.”

“We are worried by Gianforte’s opposition to a non-discrimination ordinance in his hometown of Bozeman. In the wake of that, he has not directly answered questions about whether he would sign a so-called “religious freedom” bill of the type that has allowed discrimination against gays in other states – with disastrous financial consequences.”

“The fact is that a governor can do precisely nothing to affect U.S. refugee policy – including whether or not refugees are resettled within the state – so what we have seen is not a policy discussion but rather irresponsible fearmongering.”

“[Gianforte] has shown little patience with the press – which may play to certain voters, but does not augur well for openness.”

“Gianforte has spent millions of his own money trying to convince Montana voters [that Montana’s economy is not in “pretty good shape”]. But this state has never taken kindly to attempts to purchase elections.”


“Republican challenger Greg Gianforte has based his campaign on smart business leadership. He has not, however, shown as much interest in public service. He has been unwilling to share with the public his reasoning for making large charitable contributions to groups that advocate for for public spending on private schools, prayer in schools, creationism, federal lands transfer proposals and other social matters. In fact, he has argued that it’s none of the public’s business.”

“When challenged to consider opposing sides of issues outside his area of expertise, such refugee resettlement, Gianforte has an unfortunately tendency to shut down discussion. A successful public servant must be willing to have uncomfortable conversations on controversial subjects.”

“Despite his personal success in Montana, Gianforte maintains that state government hinders business growth and should adopt a “customer service” approach. Except Montanans aren’t the customers. We’re the bosses.”

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