HELENA — Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock has scheduled several “campaign kickoff” events around the state next week, where the Democrat is expected to launch his campaign for governor in 2012, the Gazette State Bureau has learned.
A spokesman for Bullock wouldn’t comment Monday on what office Bullock plans to run for, saying only that the attorney general plans to make that announcement after Labor Day, which is next Monday.
“He’ll be having events all around the state in September (after Labor Day),” said Kevin O’Brien. “That’s still the intent.”
But sources close to the Montana Democratic Party told the Gazette State Bureau that Bullock is preparing to run for governor.
Bullock, 45, would become the second and the most prominent Democrat to enter the crowded 2012 race to succeed Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a two-term Democrat who cannot run for re-election because of term limits.
The only other Democrat in the race now is state Sen. Larry Jent of Bozeman. Five Republicans, two independents and one Libertarian also have said they’re running for the office.
Bullock sent postcards to potential supporters late last week, inviting them to a Sept. 8 campaign kickoff party at a historic pioneer cabin near Helena’s Last Chance Gulch. The invitation didn’t say what office Bullock planned to seek.
The event and other similar events will be fundraisers for Bullock’s campaign and won’t be open to the press, O’Brien said. A separate media announcement will be scheduled, he said.
Bullock won election as attorney general in 2008, winning a three-way Democratic primary and then defeating Republican Tim Fox in the general election, with 52.6 percent of the vote.
He had run previously for attorney general in 2000 but lost the Democratic primary to Mike McGrath, who went on to become attorney general for eight years and then chief justice of the Montana Supreme Court.
Bullock, who grew up in Helena, earned his law degree from Columbia University in New York and has been involved in Montana politics for much of the last 20 years. He ran Democrat Joe Mazurek’s successful campaign for attorney general in 1992 and coordinated the 2006 campaign for a ballot measure to raise the state minimum wage.
Sources also told the Gazette State Bureau that Bullock plans to unveil a lengthy, detailed plan of what he hopes to accomplish as governor.
Bullock’s entry into the governor’s race creates an open seat for attorney general in 2012 — a contest that already has two Democrats and a Republican.
The Republican is state Sen. Jim Shockley of Victor, and the Democrats are state Labor Department lawyer Pam Bucy and former state Sen. Jesse Laslovich, an attorney for the state auditor’s office in Helena.
In the Montana governor’s race, five Republicans already are competing to become the party’s 2012 nominee: former U.S. Rep. Rick Hill; security consultant Neil Livingstone of Helena; former state Sen. Ken Miller of Laurel; Fort Benton farmer James O’Hara; and former state Sen. Corey Stapleton of Billings.