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Montanans, it’s time to pay attention. In 2020, the person we elect to be our next governor will determine the fate of our public lands.

On the ballot for governor of the state of Montana next year is mega-millionaire Greg Gianforte. He’s already run for governor once, and lost — in part because of his disastrous record on public lands.

Before Gianforte ran for office, he was best known as a rich out-of-stater from New Jersey who sued the people of Montana in 2009 in an attempt to block Montanans from accessing a public river next to his property. Although Gianforte failed in his efforts to keep Montanans off our public lands, his lawsuit pressured Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks into using taxpayer dollars to build up the fencing bordering Gianforte’s land.

Gianforte’s record proves he couldn’t be more out of touch with our Montana way of life. Anyone who thinks they deserve to lead this great state as governor absolutely must understand the importance of our public lands — as part of our heritage, for our kids and for our economy.

That’s why I’m proud to announce I’m endorsing Casey Schreiner for governor.

Schreiner's a former science teacher from Great Falls who has served our community for four terms in Helena. We’ve served together for years, and this year, he led as the top-ranking Democrat in the Montana House.

We have Schreiner to thank for protecting affordable health care for 1 in 10 Montanans and keeping our rural hospitals open with the reauthorization of Medicaid expansion, the first major infrastructure package this state has seen in over a decade, health and safety for our brave firefighters, and so much more. Many people have said these priorities were gathering dust on the shelf before Schreiner championed them and helped get them across the finish line, and I agree.

But more than that, we have Schreiner to thank for never once backing down in the face of threats to our public lands. He grew up in a hunting family, and is a fearless advocate for our state’s outdoor heritage — I know because I’ve seen it in action.

Schreiner has a 100% voting record groups such as the Montana Sportsman Alliance because he understands access, fair chase and preserving our outdoor heritage.

I am an avid outdoorsman who spends much of my time hunting, hiking and fishing on public lands and waterways. I raised my children with the same values and my voting record in the Montana Legislature demonstrates as much. And I can tell when a politician is only claiming to support public lands because their D.C. consultants told them they should.

One of those politicians is Greg Gianforte.

Gianforte has all but built a career out of blocking the public from things they deserve full access to. He tried to block Montanans from enjoying the public lands by suing the state of Montana over an existing easement that crossed the property he bought. Montana’s public lands are for all Montanans, not just for rich carpetbaggers like Greg Gianforte but also for the thousands of working families who’ve enjoyed our lands for generations.

Gianforte can’t be trusted to proactively defend and protect our public lands. Luckily, we’ll have a public lands champion on the ballot in Casey Schreiner. He’s earned my vote, and if you’re a sportsman, hunter, angler, hiker, farmer or anyone in between, he’ll earn yours too.

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Sen. Tom Jacobson, D-Great Falls, represents Senate District 11 in the Montana Legislature. 

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