Mike Cooney is the leader we need to keep Montana the special place that it is
Guest column

Mike Cooney is the leader we need to keep Montana the special place that it is

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In these serious times, we need our government to work for us. And in order for that to happen, we need leaders who know how to govern and make government work for us.

Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney is the leader Montanans need to make sure the Governor’s Office continues to fight for Montanans instead of being beholden to wealthy special interests. During Cooney’s long and distinguished career in Montana, he has shown the kind of leadership and ability to bring people together to get things done.

On every issue Mike Cooney has delivered for the people of Montana while U.S Rep. Greg Gianforte has turned his back on us. Montanans have trusted Cooney to serve in the legislature, as secretary of state and as lieutenant governor because they know he will always do right by Montanans, while Gianforte has shown his true colors in the swamp of D.C.

On health care: As lieutenant governor, Cooney fought to reauthorize Medicaid expansion, which provides health care for 1 in 10 Montanans. He’s already announced a bipartisan plan to immediately lower the cost of prescription drugs when he’s elected to office.

Meanwhile, Gianforte has voted against protecting patients with pre-existing conditions and lowering the cost of prescription drugs. Gianforte also supports the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which has protected health coverage for 152,000 Montanans with pre-existing conditions, and expanded health coverage for nearly 100,000 Montanans.

On public lands: As secretary of state and a member of the state’s Land Board for 12 years, Cooney has increased access to public lands and protected our rights to hunt, fish and recreate in the great Montana outdoors. He has pledged to fully fund the successful Habitat Montana program, which protects and enhances wildlife habitat across the state.

This stands in stark contrast to Gianforte, who not only personally sued to block public access to a popular fishing access site, but has voted to gut the Land and Wildlife Conservation Fund and introduced numerous bills in Congress that would strip protections from public lands.

On money in politics: In his first campaign for public office, Cooney ran on the foundation that he would represent people, not special interest groups. He’s carried this principle through every campaign in office and was the only candidate in the race for governor to disavow dark money, corporate PAC contributions and self-financing in elections.

Gianforte, the wealthiest member of Congress, tried to buy himself the election in 2016 by spending millions of dollars of his own money, voted in favor of bills to roll back financial regulations on large financial institutions and voted against bills to require that corporations disclose their political spending.

And let’s not forget the values of civility and respect we expect in our leaders. Gianforte lied to law enforcement and all of us after he assaulted a reporter, he has sued Montanans to deny public access and he’s failed to stand up for Montanans in Washington, D.C. Montanans know Cooney to be an honest man with a high standard for civility and integrity. He’s willing to sit down with everyone and have a discussion about how to reach common ground. The contrast is clear.

We deserve leaders who are going to bring everyone together to tackle some of the toughest issues of our time: the immoral cost of prescription drugs and health care, the growing threat of climate change and the staggering influence of money in politics. Gianforte wants power to push his rigid ideology that benefits himself and his wealthy friends. Cooney wants to make government work for all of us. I ask you to join me in supporting Mike Cooney for governor.

John Heenan practices consumer protection law in Billings. He was appointed a special attorney general to prosecute dark money violations and is a former congressional candidate.

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