Posted: Oct 11, 2012 8:45 AM by MTN News
Updated: Oct 11, 2012 8:51 AM
The candidates for Montana governor debated in Missoula on Wednesday evening.
Democrat Steve Bullock and Republican Rick Hill were quizzed on familiar Montana themes, a sales tax, coal development, as well as larger issues such as the Affordable Health Care Act and global warming.
They also discussed a current, close to their campaign pocketbook issue, the Citizens United case. The two were asked if it corrupts the political process or if it is an extension of free speech.
Hill said what's needed is a level playing field, while Bullock defended Montana's century old Corrupt Practices Act.
"But the problem that you have in Washington is that every party, both parties, try to protect the contributors that contribute to them. So, Democrats tend to want to protect the activities of labor unions. Republicans often want to protect the contributions of corporations. Both sides want to protect the contributions of very wealthy people," Hill explained.
"This wasn't a Democrat or Republican issue. Bob Brown was one of witnesses to say that we have a good system in Montana, as was Mike Cooney. And we don't need to allow unlimited corporate expenditures. The vast majority of elections occur at the state and local level and we at the state and local level ought to be able to guide our elections and set the rules," Bullock told the audience.
The issue of campaign financing was timely after Wednesday's 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision to temporarily halt a judge's order removing campaign contribution limits in Montana.
Bullock, Montana's current attorney general, had filed an emergency motion to stay the district court's October 3, 2012 order pending appeal.
A federal court judge denied the state's motion to limit campaign contributions through the end of this election earlier this week. But on Wednesday, the 9th Circuit judges said they wanted the judge to provide them with his full reasoning so the panel can take a look at the case.
There are less than 28 days until the election and new poll released by Montana State University-Billings show Hill has a slight lead over Bullock, 40% to 38%.
But the interesting numbers are a little deeper. Democrat voters who identify with Bullock run at 89% according to the poll, with 8% undecided. Meanwhile, 75% of Republican voters identify with Hill while 20% remain undecided on whether or not they'll vote for Hill.