HELENA — House Minority Leader Casey Schreiner, a four-term legislator from Great Falls, on Tuesday became the first prominent Democrat to jump into the 2020 race for Montana governor, saying he’d be an advocate for — and representative of — “everyday Montanans.”
“I have a blue-collar background,” he told MTN News in an interview. “Our family is no stranger to struggle. … Those are the experiences that we need the people making decisions to have. I’m going to be the only candidate in this race that lives an everyday Montana life.”
Schreiner, 36, a former teacher, is the director of work-based learning for the state Department of Labor. He and his wife, Teresa, have three children, ages 1, 3 and 5.
He joins what’s expected to be a wide-open race to succeed Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, who can’t run for re-election in 2020 because of term limits.
Four prominent Republicans already are running or preparing to run for the governor’s post next year: Attorney General Tim Fox, U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, state Sen. Al Olszewski and Secretary of State Corey Stapleton.
Each one of them has run at least one statewide campaign before.
So far, no other prominent Democrat has thrown his or her hat into the ring — although Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney has said he’s considering it.
Schreiner launched his campaign early Tuesday with a video announcement. While he’s been in the Legislature since 2013 and is known within the party, he’s not well-known among voters.
When asked how he could hope to succeed against candidates who have more name recognition and money, Schreiner said he plans to outwork them.
“Those folks aren’t going to be hitting the road like I’m going to,” he told MTN News. “I’m going to talk to as many people as possible and we’re going to get as many voters on our team as possible.”
Schreiner, the Democrats’ leader in the House during the 2019 Legislature, said he’d emphasize the successes they managed to achieve, despite being in the minority: Extending Medicaid expansion, which brings government-funded health care to nearly 100,000 low-income families; funding education; and passing a comprehensive infrastructure package that will create jobs and help the economy.
“That’s all stuff that happened under my watch in the Legislature, and I want to continue that success in the governor’s office,” he said.