Let Bullock debate

EDITORIALS

BY ART CULLEN

We were glad to meet Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana on Monday when he campaigned at Better Day Café for the Democratic presidential nomination. It’s a shame the rest of the nation won’t have the same opportunity in televised national debates later this month organized by the Democratic National Committee. Of the 23 or so candidates, only 19 will make the first two debates based on their polling averages or having at least 65,000 individual donors. Bullock is not among them because he was wrestling with a Republican legislature in the Big Sky state until just a few weeks ago. He has campaigned in Iowa over the past year, but stepped it up last month.

It’s too late for Bullock and the debates.

The DNC is trying to set some limits on the debate field. Nineteen already are too many.

Them that writes the rules can unwrite them. The DNC’s job is to unseat Donald Trump. Period. If that means writing a waiver for Bullock, who won a state that Trump won by double digits. He wears blue jeans and scuffed square-toe cowboy boots. He talks with cattlemen and strip miners. He speaks New West, like Michael Bennet, John Hickenlooper and Jay Inslee. Steve Bullock is an entirely credible candidate who can win Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio. But he can’t if he is shut out of the nomination process, which is what the DNC is doing.

One core function of the DNC is to suck up money to fuel the machine. Bullock sued as attorney general and subsequently legislated as governor to block dark political money from Montana. As a result, the Republican legislature and the Democratic governor were able to put together a package that is balanced for the state. Politics can work when secret money controlling politicians is tamped down. His message does not resonate with the establishment.

That resentment fuels the Bernie Sanders campaign to this day, not without reason.

Let Bullock in. He is as worthy for consideration as Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren. We know that John Delaney agrees with Bullock and wants him in the race, even though they occupy the same moderate/pragmatist lane. Bullock enjoys support from the state’s longest-serving Democrat, Attorney General Tom Miller, and many rural activists are with him.

If other Democrats call foul, what will they do? Not debate? Refuse to acknowledge Bullock? Let them complain. See who is first. And if there is another candidate like Wayne Messam, the mayor of Miramar, Florida, who has something significant to say in a key swing state, let him in. Every voice matters if the party actually has a big tent. If that creates a headache for the DNC, it’s nothing compared to the headache of losing to Trump again. Bullock might be the man. We won’t know if we can’t hear him.

Bring in the women

Gov. Kim Reynolds has done as much as any Iowa man has in elevating women to positions of influence in Iowa. She is appointing women to the trial and appellate courts. Her chief of staff is female. Just this week the governor appointed one of our favorites, former Rep. Helen Miller, D-Fort Dodge, to the Iowa Parole Board. And, of course, Debi Durham sits at Reynolds’s right hand as director of the economic development and housing authority. It should become one of her legacies, as Reynolds appears committed to appointing more women to positions of power.

That is good in and of itself.

Our hope is that all these women will advise the governor to defend Medicaid, on which so many mothers and children depend. We pray they tell her to help raise teacher salaries, of course most of them being women. And she will campaign to elevate nurses, most of whom are women, and pay them what they are worth and quit working them like mules. She would stick up for state office workers, most of whom are women, and their right to bargain collectively. She would call for a truce in the abortion wars, recognizing that we have reached a stalemate in a pluralistic society. And, she would lift the veil of secrecy surrounding sexual harassment and sleaziness in the Iowa Capitol.

When all those women start standing up for women, Iowa will be a far better place. It could happen. We hope Reynolds is starting something.

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