Local State Rep. Andy McKean hosted Montana Gov. Steve Bullock at his home, along with a group of supporters and Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller June 9. The move was the first official campaign stop in Jones County in the Democratic race to the White House for 2020.

Bullock is a relative newcomer to the race, having just announced a few weeks back to allow his state’s 2019 legislative session to come to an end and made the trip out to Anamosa before heading to Cedar Rapids to join 18 other Democratic hopefuls during the Iowa Democratic Party’s Hall of Fame event later that day.

In making his case to Jones County voters, Bullock touted his ability to bridge divides in the country as a Democratic governor working with a Republican legislature. He also pointed to the 2016 election. Bullock won reelection in 2016 by four points as the state voted for Trump by a 20-point margin.

“I’m the only one in this field that actually won a Trump state, and if we don’t win back some of the places we lost, we’re not going to win this race,” he said.

Bullock said his candidacy would help bridge another divide, the one with rural voters, that he feels the party has lost touch with. Part of that plan, Bullock said, does not included getting rid of the Electoral College like some other Democratic candidates.

“Instead of abolishing the Electoral College, which has been around since our nation’s founding, I think the better question is why are we losing in these places?” Bullock said. “Democrats need to be able to reach out in rural and urban (areas).”

Another key issue for Bullock was campaign finance reform. As Montana’s attorney general, Bullock organized states in the first brief against the Citizen’s United ruling.

The issue is one he and McKean share a passion for. McKean said he’s interested in looking at some of the laws he passed as governor to see if they could be introduced in Iowa.

During his speech and a question and answer session that followed, Bullock also touched on the environment, student debt, women’s rights, gun violence and international issues.

McKean, a longtime Republican, announced his decision to switch parties toward the end of the 2019 legislative session citing discomfort in the direction the party was headed and the leadership of President Donald Trump. The decision made international news, which McKean said surprised him and said he got more than 1,500 letters following the move, from both Democrats and Republicans.

He hopes to be able to host more events like he did with Bullock, saying he’s got a number of candidates on his short-list that he’s interested in learning more about.

“I’m looking forward to inviting other candidates,” McKean said. “I think the best way to learn about someone is when you get to meet them face to face.”

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