HELENA — The Montana Contractors Association on Wednesday endorsed Republican Greg Gianforte for governor, citing his opposition to a 2020 ballot measure that would legalize recreational marijuana in Montana.
“The recreational marijuana initiative is a very, very troubling initiative,” said Bob Warren, president of the contractors’ group. “The MCA board voted to fight this with all our strength and resources.
“We chose to support the Gianforte campaign because of his similar opposition.”
The MCA often endorses Republican candidates, but hasn’t usually linked endorsements to such a high-profile, controversial issue.
Gianforte, Montana’s current U.S. congressman, is opposing Democratic Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney and Libertarian Lyman Bishop for the state’s open governor seat.
Cooney is supporting Initiative 190, which would legalize recreational marijuana in Montana. Voters will decide the issue in the Nov. 3 election.
When asked for comment on the MCA endorsement of Gianforte on the marijuana issue, Cooney’s campaign noted that the Democrat has been endorsed by a dozen other groups, including labor unions, the Montana National Organization for Women, Montana Conservation Voters, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana and the National Human Rights Campaign.
I-190 also has a separate companion ballot measure, Constitutional Initiative 118, which would allow legalized marijuana to be sold only to Montanans 21 and older.
Warren said passage of I-190 would damage the MCA’s efforts to encourage a drug-free workplace culture.
“We see the problems that drugs create in our workplace and our communities,” he said. “The MCA’s vision is to improve the quality of life and safety in our communities.”