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Mike Cooney’s Momentum Grows with Three Big Labor Endorsements

Photo provided by campaign.

In a meaningful sign of his strength for the June Democratic governor, Mike Cooney has scored the endorsement of three major Montana labor unions, an unprecedented achievement in a competitive Democratic primary.

Cooney received the endorsement this week from the Montana Federation of Public Employee, the AFL-CIO, and the Teamsters.

In their endorsement, the MFPE highlighted Cooney’s long record of public service:

We have worked with him throughout his long, distinguished career in public service, from the legislature, to Secretary of State, to the Montana Historical Society, to the Montana Labor Department, and now as Lieutenant Governor. Mike knows Montana. Mike knows good government.

In their endorsement, the AFL-CIO noted that Cooney has spent his entire life in public service to Montana:

After careful consideration of all candidates, we made the decision to endorse Mike Cooney and his running mate Casey Schreiner. Mike has spent his career in public service to his home state, and the lives of countless working Montanans are better for it. He has shown that he’s committed to the workers who drive the state’s economy every day. The fact that he has a card-carrying trade unionist as his running mate further emphasizes that.

Cooney also received the endorsement of the Teamsters Local 190 in Billings, who noted:

Mike knows the importance of the contributions of the men and women who have built Montana – workers. He knows Montanans stand stronger together and that it is the hardworking people of our state who are worth fighting for. It’s why Montanans have elected Mike to statewide office four times—as a state legislator in the House and the Senate, as Secretary of State, and as Governor Steve Bullock’s Lt. Governor— because we know he can get things done by bringing people together and finding responsible solutions while never compromising on our Montana values. 

When I reached out to Cooney for comment on the endorsements, he stressed his commitment to the working men and women who have made Montana “the state it is today”:

Let’s not forget it’s the hard-working and dedicated men and women of Montana who have made the state it is today. I’m humbled to have earned the support of organized labor groups across the state. These endorsements mean Casey and I are running a campaign that reflects the values and vision of Montana working families. With this unprecedented amount of support I’m confident we’re building the strongest statewide campaign Democrats need to win in November.

These endorsements rest on two foundations, Cooney’s long record of public service and, perhaps, a growing sense that his campaign is the one that can win in November.

It’s undeniable that Cooney has a demonstrated record of achievement for working people across the state. Since he first served in the Montana Legislature, Cooney has been there for the big fights that matter to Montana’s workers. His record has been consistent since day one as a legislator, Secretary of State, state agency head and Lieutenant Governor: he has always voted for the interest of Montana worker, and he’s been on the frontlines with them in those fights.

Cooney’s record presents a real challenge for his opponent, Whitney Williams. While no one questions her commitment to progressive values on labor questions, Cooney has done the work his whole professional life. It matters that Cooney has been fighting for labor for the better part of forty years, and the labor endorsements are an earned testament to that effort.

The endorsements also reflect a growing consensus in progressive circles that Cooney is the candidate who can defeat Greg Gianforte in the fall. The Williams campaign seems to be stalled—even more than others—during the shelter in place, and she just hasn’t delivered on the fundraising numbers that were supposed to be her most significant asset in her effort to overcome the name recognition that Cooney—and Gianforte—hold.

No one in labor has told me, on or off the record, that they’re discounting the Williams campaign. Still, this wave of endorsements, a big win for the Cooney campaign, suggest a consensus is emerging that Cooney is our best bet to hold the governor’s office in November.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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  • This is indeed good news for the Cooney campaign, although unfortunately, the power of labor has been so decimated by the republican messaging machine since the Reagan administration.

    One hopeful issue from the present Coronavirus situation is the demonstration of the weaknesses of the “gig economy” when participants don’t pay into unemployment, retirement and health benefits as part of a CBA.

    Mike Cooney has demonstrated by his time in the Senate that he can work with the Montana Republicans to get legislation passed. Ms. Williams has nothing to show that she can engage successfully in the legislative arena, let alone run a state government. Mike Cooney has shown he can do both consistently over time. His comparison with Greg Gianforte should convince all but the fringe independent that he is the person to elect as Montana’s next governor

    • Stock market closes sharply higher as Sander drops out of the race. Can you get Biden to do us a favor? Wonder how many points Cooney and Bullock are worth? LOL

      • Imagine the explosive sustained rally on Wall Street if Trump were to flat out resign. Followed by a big boost if McConnell, Daines, Gianforte, and other GOPper stooges tendered their papers.

            • ya ya, In 2012, did you forget that the lying Montana Democratic Party claimed in campaign materials attacking Daines that RightNow had laid off Montana workers in order to outsource their jobs to India. Gianforte sued the Democrats for making false claims, which led the party to issue an apology letter that was obtained by the Bozeman Chronicle in 2013. At that point, the suit was dropped.

              If you tell a lie enough does become the truth. Is this one or your parties rules?

              • Tom – no, that would be the GOP playbook.
                Don’t believe it? Check out Trump’s dillies EVERY SINGLE DAY – and Rosendale’s, and Stapleton’s, and Gianforte’s, and Daines’, and on and on and on, ad nauseum.

                This is what today’s GOP has become – THE party of lies!

              • Do you honestly believe that Procter and Gamble wasn’t outsourcing jobs to China will Steve was working for them in China during the 90s?

                And you honestly believe that RightNow technologies wasn’t about outsourcing jobs?

                Look forward to your answer.

          • Has Trump made you a millionaire yet, Tom? Or
            do or your family collect any of those government entitlements like medicare, social security, food stamps?

  • You are whistling through the graveyard.

    Didn’t the Unions endorse Hillary too?

    How did that work out in Montana?

    The best way I can describe Cooney is by calling him a mini-Mondale – somebody expendable for the Dems because he has no political future.

    Are you willing to predict a Cooney victory?

    • I am not a great prognosticator like you, Eric.
      I think when Republicans let Greg Gianforte buy the nomination, it will increase the odds that Mike wins, but only you are the Nostradamus of Montana politics.

  • Hey Don,

    Big props for your work here at The Montana Post. I’m just going to push back a little on your thoughts on Cooney. My family has lived in Montana since 1969 and I’ve no idea who Mike Cooney is. It seems like the Democratic establishment has declared this the year of the older white guy who’s hung around for a long time and who deserves a shot at the ring. Well, I’m not buying it. What has Mike actually accomplished? Name a piece of legislation he’s run through from conception to enactment. Maybe there’s a lot. I don’t know. His campaign is a lot of platitudes and little else. When is the last time he’s been in Wibaux or Malta or Trout Creek or St. Ignatius? A Democrat has to go to all 56 counties in Montana to win. You can’t just sit back and let the establishment fill your boat engine with gas. Kathleen Williams is a fine example. Her last campaign went everywhere across the state and she had a fine showing as a result. I don’t think Cooney has the constitution for the task. He seems like a real nice guy, but that doesn’t win you an election in Montana. Two years ago, Montana chose a guy who likes to beat the shit out of reporters for their representative.

    • Hey, Hank. Happy to send over more details later, but check out my interview with Cooney from a month or so ago on the podcast page and you’ll get a lot better sense of what he’s done.

      And I do know he was campaigning all over eastern Montana before the COVID-19 outbreak, too.

      Thanks for the comment!

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