Bullock wins Montana governor's race, awaits transition

2012-11-07T20:45:00Z 2013-06-21T07:12:14Z Bullock wins Montana governor's race, awaits transitionBy CHARLES S. JOHNSON Missoulian State Bureau

HELENA – It took more than 17 hours after the polls closed Tuesday night, but Democrat Steve Bullock was finally declared the winner of the Montana governor’s race by early Wednesday afternoon.

Bullock, the state’s attorney general, will be sworn in as Montana’s 24th governor in January, succeeding fellow Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer.

Unofficial returns showed Bullock leading from the start Tuesday night and amassing a sizeable lead, only to see his margin over Republican Rick Hill shrink during the night. Libertarian Ron Vandevender finished in last place.

With 94 percent of the precincts counted, the latest results, according to the Associated Press, showed:

• Bullock, 225,418 votes, for 49 percent.

• Hill, 217,058 votes, for 47 percent.

• Vandevender, 17,008 votes, for 4 percent.

In a hotel meeting room packed with cheering supporters, Bullock thanked his family, running mate John Walsh and his family, his campaign staff, his attorney general’s staff and volunteers across the state.

“Thank you for what was a long ride, definitely a long night for many of us,” Bullock said. “It’s been a long process, but being elected as your next governor is an incredible, incredible honor.“

Bullock said he had spoken with Hill earlier Wednesday and elaborated on it later with reporters.

“I had a nice conversation with Congressman Hill, and he wished me the best as governor, and said he thought I’d do a good job and offered his help,” Bullock said. “I said I certainly appreciate that. We talked a little bit about both of our families. I told him I thought he ran a great campaign.”

Hill issued a statement thanking his supporters, congratulating Bullock, and wishing him and Walsh the best and calling on leaders of both political parties to set aside their differences to find solutions that will benefit Montanans.

While the outcome of the election was not what he and running mate Jon Sonju desired, Hill said, “I am proud that we ran a positive campaign, focused more on the issues and less on politics.“

Bullock told the crowd he ran for governor because he believes in Montana’s future – everyone’s future, not Democrats’ future or Republicans’ future.

Bullock said he ran a positive campaign about creating jobs, investing in schools, promoting access to public lands and streams, protecting seniors, advocating for working families and women’s health care, standing up for veterans and creating a bright future for kids.


The governor-elect said there are a number of transition tasks such as key appointments facing him as he prepares to be the next governor, but Bullock said he his priority Wednesday was to celebrate.

“I have no doubt that we’ll be able to put together a great Cabinet, a great group of people, but today we’re enjoying and celebrating with family,” Bullock told reporters afterward.

Bullock also must present a proposed budget to the Legislature. It’s usually a modification of the budget that the outgoing governor prepares.

His plan, Bullock said, is to meet with legislative leaders and lawmakers from across the state from both parties to discuss pending issues. Republicans again will control both the House and Senate in 2013.

The relationship between Schweitzer and the Republican-controlled Legislature was tumultuous, with the governor vetoing a record 79 bills.

Bullock, in contrast, emphasized the importance of working together.

“As attorney general, even in real partisan times, I was so happy we were able to make substantial changes dealing with drunk drivers and prescription drug abuse,” he said. “We did that by bringing people together. I hope that to be a hallmark of our efforts this next legislative session as well.“

Bullock also told how he had fought the influence of out-of-state money in Montana elections as attorney general and in the political campaign.

Asked about the disputed $500,000 Hill’s campaign accepted from the Montana Republican Party last month and which a Helena district judge has barred Hill from spending, Bullock said he didn’t know if it was a turning point in his campaign.

Montanans also adopted, by about a 3-1 margin, Initiative 166, a nonbinding policy statement for public officials that says corporations aren’t people and money isn’t free speech.

“Whether it’s a mandate for me, we all need to recognize I think that our sort of democracy, representative government, is at stake here, and we need to do what we can to make sure our elections are decided by Montanans,” Bullock said.

Missoulian State Bureau reporter Charles S. Johnson can be reached at (406) 447-4066 or at

Copyright 2015 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(18) Comments

  1. sofaking tired of the GOP
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    sofaking tired of the GOP - November 09, 2012 4:54 pm
    And Tester won, so much for Missoula being a liberal outpost in a red state. We are an independent state, who does not want to give corporations more power, and cut rich peoples' taxes even more even though they already are paying the lowest in 60 years.
  2. walter12
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    walter12 - November 09, 2012 7:31 am
    Bullock, just another stooge and lapdog for the creature Obama. Your monster Obama gets only 41% of the vote in Montana, yet this Bullock guy wins. We have a truly schizophrenic state.
  3. bwinslow
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    bwinslow - November 08, 2012 9:01 pm
  4. Chuck Feney
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    Chuck Feney - November 08, 2012 4:30 pm
    I desperately want one of Vandevender's bumper stickers, with his picture, on my pickup.
    Does anyone have access to one?
  5. sofaking tired of the GOP
    Report Abuse
    sofaking tired of the GOP - November 08, 2012 8:53 am
    Wow, a troll from another state, you must have a lot to do with your spare time!
  6. idiot state
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    idiot state - November 08, 2012 8:33 am
    Wow. From the looks of the photo, he's either enjoying some of Montana's famous medicine or has some serious control issues. Montana, enjoy your new liberal governor, and enjoy your continued bottom of the barrel status. Any of you ask Bullock what his intentions re the billions in unfunded pension liabilities are? Probably not.
  7. BJG1
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    BJG1 - November 08, 2012 8:18 am
    Great for Bullock. Now we have to deal with the Teapublicans trying to pass nutty bills like they have tried in the past!!! Living in the Hootervile county (Ravalli) we face that with the Commisars here.
  8. theorangedog
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    theorangedog - November 08, 2012 6:18 am
    Kahlotus, That is hilarious!
  9. Alan Johnson
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    Alan Johnson - November 07, 2012 5:15 pm
    It's over because Hill has conceded. His people know that they can't make up the deficit with the vote of the few precincts still out, or he wouldn't have conceded.
  10. Chuck Feney
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    Chuck Feney - November 07, 2012 4:03 pm
    Vandvender sure doesn't look like a power broker, but with all the Ron Paul voters who backed him after being ignored and disrespected by the Republican potentates in Montana, that's exactly what he is.
    Enjoy the next four years, Republicans!
  11. Hersbird
    Report Abuse
    Hersbird - November 07, 2012 3:59 pm
    Why are there still thousands of votes out in Billings, Hamilton, and Kalispell? The only other city not finished is Butte where the turnout in one precinct is more then registered, go figure. So there is no chance when the real final is in with the biggest republican areas fully counted that this might go the other way? I'd say billings is at least 18,000 votes short still.
  12. wes d
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    wes d - November 07, 2012 2:19 pm
    Move to Alabama where you belong.
  13. MsEmily
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    MsEmily - November 07, 2012 1:41 pm
    Idiot state, you crack me up! The voting fraud problem lies with the federal gov't and the electoral votes instead of the actual votes of the American people.

    Someone is under the assumption that the corruption only exists in Montana, what a joke! Let's start at the top of the food chain and work down and most individuals if not all would be out of a job in WA DC!
  14. Kahlotus
    Report Abuse
    Kahlotus - November 07, 2012 1:31 pm
    Last checked on CNN, 85% of the vote has now been counted with 49% for Bullock and 47% for Hill. There's a difference of 8,700 votes. The Missoulian is a little behind the times with their 23% of the vote counted stats.
  15. Kahlotus
    Report Abuse
    Kahlotus - November 07, 2012 1:27 pm
    Wow! Now it's a triple whammy for ole Walter12. Be sure to check for those scary monsters under your bed before you go to sleep.
  16. adventure1
    Report Abuse
    adventure1 - November 07, 2012 12:55 pm
    Because 2 networks have declared the winners it's done? (They announced this when only 23% of the vote was in). Not saying the outcome will be different but how about we count the votes first and then declare a winner instead of inhaling the networks exhaust? And to you Idiot State, if you think this is an idiot state, unless that's your personal description, why don't you move to one of those other states in the region?

    Idiot State said: "Huh. Surprising that Montana's the only state in the region who hasn't finished counting votes, and who's got a potential voting fraud problem."
  17. Buzz Feedback
    Report Abuse
    Buzz Feedback - November 07, 2012 9:05 am
    The Hey Vern! guy has 16k votes. Rawk it!
  18. idiot state
    Report Abuse
    idiot state - November 07, 2012 7:27 am
    Huh. Surprising that Montana's the only state in the region who hasn't finished counting votes, and who's got a potential voting fraud problem.
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