Montana Governor Talks Bipartisanship at UM Mansfield Center
Montana Governor Greg Gianforte appeared Monday evening as the featured guest at the University of Montana Mansfield Center Dialogue in a program entitled ‘Reflections on the Challenges and Opportunities of Bipartisanship’.
Gianforte, a Republican who won the 2020 gubernatorial election with the largest number of votes in state history, answered questions presented by David Bell, the Mansfield Advisory Board chair and CEO of ALPS.
Gianforte began by stating that after being elected, he and his family immediately began hosting dinners at the Governor’s mansion in order to foster communication with others in state government.
“I made a promise coming into this office that we would turn the governor's home which is our home in Helena, into a house of hospitality,” began Gianforte. “We entertain every single night that we’re there. I think that as Montanans we share so much more in common than separates us. But without a relationship, it's hard to find it. So, philosophy? I'm Italian, you make food. (laughter) You eat together, and you understand each other better.”
Gianforte also said he immediately began reaching out to members of both parties in order to forge new relationships.
“After I was elected in 2020, one of the first things I did was I called every single legislator,” he said. “I think there were a few people that were shocked to hear from me, and that I was sincere. I wanted to know their views and what was important. So that was step one, just to say, ‘hey, we're going to work together’. You know, I think good ideas come from Republicans; they come from Democrats, they come from independents.”
Gianforte singled out a prominent liberal Democrat in the audience with whom he worked to pass important legislation.
“Ellie Boldman is here, and we have a lot in common,” he said. “I hope I don't screw up your re-election by saying this, but I will say that I'm very concerned about the welfare of kids in foster care and the services we deliver. We don't agree on a whole lot of stuff but we do on that, and we find we can work together.”
Gianforte was firm in stating his beliefs about government and the commitments he made while running for election, by using a football analogy.
“There aren't going to be a lot of surprises from our administration,” he said. “I mean, when I campaigned, we laid out a business plan for the state. It's about more good paying jobs so our kids don't have to leave and protect our way of life. I played football in high school and I think that most football games are won with three to five yard plays. I think we ran a bunch of plays this last session and we got to move the chains. We put some points on the board. We're going to run some more plays that are towards the same end zone.”