Jent Issues Keystone XL Challenges to Bullock, Obama

By Beacon Staff

While the Republican side of the Montana gubernatorial race has seen plenty of interaction between its nine candidates, the two-person Democratic race has been mostly silent, with heavy favorite Attorney General Steve Bullock generally portrayed as the presumptive nominee in news reports and polls showing him with a big lead.

But it appears the other Democrat in the race, Bozeman state Sen. Larry Jent, may be ready to try to increase his public exposure. According to a story by longtime Montana political reporter Charles Johnson, Jent wrote to President Barack Obama on Monday, “urging the president to instruct Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to approve” the Keystone XL pipeline project and then challenged Bullock the next day to lend his backing as well. Johnson’s story notes that Bullock already expressed his support three months ago in a letter to Clinton.

Citing a news release, the story also states that Jent “called on Bullock to outline some specific positions on energy-related issues.”

“Steve Bullock and I differ on the important issue of the role of coal in Montana’s economic future,” Jent said. “I support the development of the Otter Creek (coal) tracts; Steve voted against that while on the Land Board.

“I spoke for and voted for (the) Montana Alberta Tie Line (MATL) this past year in the Senate. Does anyone know where Steve stands on energy?”

Bullock’s campaign spokesperson, Kevin O’Brien, responded by saying Bullock “believes that Montana can create jobs and grow our rural economies through responsible development of our vast energy resources, including coal, wind, oil and gas, hydropower, biofuels and geothermal.” O’Brien said, because of those beliefs, Bullock is a “supporter of Otter Creek” but “believes that Montana shouldn’t give away our resources” and should have waited for a better price.

“Had we waited, we could have received nearly $200 million for Montana taxpayers,” Bullock’s spokesman said.

This isn’t a dramatic exchange, but it’s at least noteworthy in a primary race that has been so quiet and where Bullock, as of Dec. 31, leads Jent in fundraising with $231,819 in cash in the bank compared to $6,788.

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