2020 Montana Governor Candidate Guide
ABORTION – Legal or ban?
Cooney – Legal. “Will use the power of my veto pen to stop any and all attacks on a woman’s right to choose.” Voted against constitutional amendment to protect “unborn human life” as “compelling state interest.”
Gianforte – Ban. Joined brief asking Supreme Court to overrule constitutional right to abortion, calling Roe v. Wade “unworkable.” Voted to prohibit abortion after 20 weeks except in certain cases of rape or incest.
AFFORDABLE CARE ACT – Support Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare? Support expansion of Medicaid and Medicare?
Gianforte – No. Supports ACA repeal. Voted against bill to protect pre-existing conditions. Has said that he supports them, though, and wouldn’t push repeal of MT Medicaid expansion.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE – Require political ads to disclose their largest funders?
CLIMATE CHANGE – Consider human-caused climate change a serious threat?
Gianforte – No. Needs to be addressed, but human activity is only one of several factors. Voted against bill to stop Trump administration from leaving Paris Climate Agreement.
CLIMATE CHANGE – Address as a top priority by taxing or limiting output of greenhouse gases? Support government subsidies for renewable energy?
Cooney – Yes. Would build on work of Montana Climate Solutions Council. Proposes training grants to businesses hiring new workers in renewable energy.
Gianforte – No. Supports improving energy efficiency, but not push to tax carbon. “Montana is … rich in minerals, coal, oil, gas and timber. Too often, our state government has stood in the way of their responsible development.”
COVID-19 RESPONSE – Support administration’s response to coronavirus pandemic?
COVID-19 ECONOMIC RESPONSE – Economic response to coronavirus pandemic?
Cooney – Would suspend utility and rent payments during crisis. Supports “investing in 21st-century infrastructure.” Ensure “students and workers have access to the training they need,” with apprenticeship tax credits.
Gianforte – ”Get economy going again, get Montanans back to work in good-paying jobs, and get Montana open for business.” Cut taxes and regulations on energy, mining, natural resources, high tech, and tourism industries.
EDUCATION – Increase K-12 public funding?
Gianforte – Unclear. Education dollars should go to teachers, not bureaucracy. Work to “get more money to the classroom.”
EDUCATION – Use public funding for private and/or for-profit schools?
Cooney – No. Against diverting public funding to private education, such as “devastating” Supreme Court Espinoza ruling.
ENVIRONMENT – Tighten or loosen environmental laws?
FINANCIAL REGULATION – Tighten or loosen regulation of banks and credit card companies?
Cooney – Maintain or tighten. Criticized Gianforte’s vote for “rolling back financial regulations on large financial institutions.”
Gianforte – Loosen. Voted to roll back Dodd-Frank bank regulations, which opponents said disadvantaged smaller banks.
GAY RIGHTS – Support LGBTQ rights, including same-sex marriage and protection from discrimination on sexual preference?
GUN CONTROL – Enact more restrictive gun legislation?
Cooney – Somewhat. Supports expanded background checks and “red flag” laws. But has worked for more access and rights to hunt and fish on public lands.
IMMIGRATION – Encourage or restrict immigration?
LABOR – Support “right- to-work” laws, eliminating unions’ ability to mandate dues for workers they represent?
Cooney – No. Testified against 2019 House bill that would have further limited Montana public sector unions. “Why would anybody support people having the right to work for less?”
Gianforte – Likely yes. Voted in Congress against bills strengthening unions, including one to give TSA employees same rights on the job as other federal workers.
MARIJUANA – Legalize recreational marijuana? Support Initiatives I-190 and I-118 to do this?
Cooney – Not opposed, but let voters decide on “a commonsense strategy that suits Montana’s needs.”
MINIMUM WAGE – Raise Montana state hourly minimum wage above current $8.65?
Cooney – Yes. Supports state’s regular adjustment of minimum wage based on cost of living and inflation.
PLANNED PARENTHOOD – Support Planned Parenthood’s receiving public funds for non-abortion-related care?
Cooney – Yes. Claims “an extensive record of fighting for access to affordable reproductive healthcare.”
STUDENT FINANCIAL AID – Support free or subsidized tuition for lower income individuals? Support lower interest or forgiveness on student loans?
Cooney – Yes. Would freeze college tuition at four-year colleges, and raise funding for two-year institutions. Supports federal funding for TRIO programs, supporting low-income students. Would reduce student debt.
Gianforte – No. Sees “market forces,” a decrease in the availability of student loans, as helping to lower cost of tuition. Focuses on promoting “trades education and apprenticeship programs” over four-year college degrees.
TAXES – Support administration’s $1.9 trillion (2017) tax cuts?
Cooney – No. Attacks Gianforte vote on the cuts. They “exploded the federal deficit by more than $2 trillion. Multi-millionaires like him got a tax cut. The rest of us got saddled with a check.”
Gianforte – Yes. Voted for the cuts and praised them for helping “hardworking Montanans keep more of what they earn.”
Campus Election Engagement Project is a nonpartisan effort to help colleges engage students in elections. Sources include Votesmart.org, FactCheck.org, Politifact.com and candidate statements. Vote411.org and Ballotready.org offer guides to local races.