Cooney Chronicles: A Leader on Public Lands, Health Care, and Fair Elections

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In these serious times, we need our government to work for us. And in order for that to happen, we need leaders who know how to govern and make government work for us.

Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney is the leader Montanans need to make sure the Governor’s Office continues to fight for Montanans instead of being beholden to wealthy special interests. During Cooney’s long and distinguished career in Montana, he has shown the kind of leadership and ability to bring people together to get things done.

On every issue, Mike Cooney has delivered for the people of Montana while U.S Rep. Greg Gianforte has turned his back on us. Montanans have trusted Cooney to serve in the legislature, as secretary of state and as lieutenant governor because they know he will always do right by Montanans, while Gianforte has shown his true colors in the swamp of D.C.

On health care: As lieutenant governor, Cooney fought to reauthorize Medicaid expansion, which provides health care for 1 in 10 Montanans. He’s already announced a bipartisan plan to immediately lower the cost of prescription drugs when he’s elected to office.

Meanwhile, Gianforte has voted against protecting patients with pre-existing conditions and lowering the cost of prescription drugs. Gianforte also supports the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which has protected health coverage for 152,000 Montanans with pre-existing conditions, and expanded health coverage for nearly 100,000 Montanans.

On public lands: As secretary of state and a member of the state’s Land Board for 12 years, Cooney has increased access to public lands and protected our rights to hunt, fish and recreate in the great Montana outdoors. He has pledged to fully fund the successful Habitat Montana program, which protects and enhances wildlife habitat across the state.

This stands in stark contrast to Gianforte, who not only personally sued to block public access to a popular fishing access site, but has voted to gut the Land and Wildlife Conservation Fund and introduced numerous bills in Congress that would strip protections from public lands.

On money in politics: In his first campaign for public office, Cooney ran on the foundation that he would represent people, not special interest groups. He’s carried this principle through every campaign in office and was the only candidate in the race for governor to disavow dark money, corporate PAC contributions and self-financing in elections.

Gianforte, the wealthiest member of Congress, tried to buy himself the election in 2016 by spending millions of dollars of his own money, voted in favor of bills to roll back financial regulations on large financial institutions and voted against bills to require that corporations disclose their political spending.

And let’s not forget the values of civility and respect we expect in our leaders. Gianforte lied to law enforcement and all of us after he assaulted a reporter, he has sued Montanans to deny public access and he’s failed to stand up for Montanans in Washington, D.C. Montanans know Cooney to be an honest man with a high standard for civility and integrity. He’s willing to sit down with everyone and have a discussion about how to reach common ground. The contrast is clear.

We deserve leaders who are going to bring everyone together to tackle some of the toughest issues of our time: the immoral cost of prescription drugs and health care, the growing threat of climate change and the staggering influence of money in politics. Gianforte wants power to push his rigid ideology that benefits himself and his wealthy friends. Cooney wants to make government work for all of us. I ask you to join me in supporting Mike Cooney for governor.

As we enter the last two weeks of the Democratic primary for governor, you’re going to hear a lot of noise as the candidates jockey for position and people who are passionate about their candidate take to social media and the phones to fight for the person they support. A lifetime of caring about Democratic politics in Montana, though, has taught me that Democrats never win when they tear each other down, and the best campaigns are the ones that stick to the issues that matter most to the people: their schools, their rights, their neighborhoods, and their public lands.

For the next two weeks, this space will, every couple of days, highlight what Mike Cooney and Casey Schreiner’s long years of service have meant for the people of Montana. You won’t read any consultant-tested arrows or messages paid for by some out-of-state SuperPAC. You’ll learn why Mike Cooney’s years of service to the people of Montana make him a candidate I am proud to support, and the candidate I think has the best chance to keep the governor’s chair away from Greg Gianforte. 

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.

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About the author

John Heenan

John Heenan practices consumer protection law in Billings. He was appointed a special attorney general to prosecute dark money violations and ran for Congress in 2018.


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    • Mark…Too!

      What else did you have to do yesterday? Put a flag on a veteran’s
      grave? Nope! Probably – since you’re a “small r” republican – you didn’t serve. Right?

      Pogo (Viet Vet)

        • Then why? Aren’t you a little resentful how vets are treated in
          our VA hospitals. Do you blame this despicable treatment on
          Democrats like Jon Tester? Do you blame the Iraq War on Democrats? Just asking? Since you gave that much, risked that much, I feel you have a more compelling right to object to some things, like freedom jeopardized by utter greed or foolish incompetence in war. Anyway, thanks for sharing the above.

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