On Tuesday night, gubernatorial candidates Republican Greg Gianforte and Democrat Mike Cooney had their second and final debate of the race. Gianforte stopped by KGVO’s studio early Wednesday morning and he shared his thoughts about how the debate unfolded.

“How do we protect people in this health crisis?” Gianforte asked. “How do we get our economy going again? How do we get people back to work? That is where I focused in the debate last night. Our comeback plan that we have published, you can see it out at montanabusinessplan.com, focuses on getting our loggers back to work, increasing investment trades education, peeling back excessive regulations, and lowering taxes.”

According to Gianforte, we have serious problems in Montana and serious discussions need to be had.

“It is unfortunate that under 16 years of Democrat control in Helena that Montana is 44th in the nation in wages and we have the lowest starting teacher pay in the entire country,” Gianforte said. “We have the second highest number of kids in foster care in the entire country and violent crime is up 37% in the last seven years. The statement I made last night was that clearly better is possible. Honestly, Montanans deserve better. We are not living up to our potential.”

Gianforte thinks public policy needs to focus on keeping the most vulnerable safe. He advocated for keeping Montana’s front line healthcare workers and our teachers as safe as possible as well.

“However, for the general population, I trust Montanans with their health and the health of their loved ones,” Gianforte said. “I think the Governor’s office should be publishing guidelines and relying more on personal responsibility rather than mandates because the unpleasant truth for the other side is that the actions that have been taken have created an economic pandemic. We have lost 150,000 jobs here in the state. Many businesses have closed and some will never reopen.”

The United States Congress passed the CARES Act back in March and Gianforte is adamant that those funds have not been properly utilized by our current administration here in Montana.

“In the CARES Act, we appropriated 1.25 billion to the state of Montana to help local municipalities do things like open the schools back up safely,” Gianforte said. “Well there has been a total failure by this administration. That money was sent when the CARES Act was authorized last spring and only 4.4% has been distributed to local municipalities. That money is sitting in a bank account in Helena. I would have used that money much more swiftly to make sure our schools would have been opened more quickly and safely to protect our teachers and students.”

Gianforte believes we are going to be living with this coronavirus threat for the foreseeable future, but he is encouraged that we have four vaccines that are currently in phase three clinical trials. He said life has to go on and he feels that will require “real leadership”.