Gov’s race: Gianforte brings business successes

Montana governor candidate Greg Gianforte wants to build jobs and jobs and maintain healthcare.

Gianforte was in Miles City for the Bucking Horse Sale with his wife, Susan, and talked about his focus in the upcoming election.

Gianforte is running against current Montana Governor Steve Bullock. 

He is running on a platform that focuses on creating, attracting and retaining high wage jobs, removing barriers on creating jobs, accountability to the state government, maintain the quality of healthcare and preparing Montana’s kids for the jobs of the future. 

“We had this idea that we could start a local business in a rural state like Montana and people told us that wasn’t possible. So, Susan and I started a little business of our own in our home called RightNow Technologies and that business grew to be Bozeman’s largest commercial employer,” said Gianforte.

In the beginning there were more than 500 people involved with the average wage at almost $90,000 a year. U.S. Sen. Steve Daines even worked for Gianforte in the early days. 

Gianforte eventually took the business public, trading on Wall Street for eight years until 2012 when the business became a part of Oracle.

He has since then launched five other successful companies.

“The thing I think is so exciting is that this business we started created an economic engine in Gallatin County. So much so that in 2014 40 percent of all the wage growth in the entire state of Montana occurred in Gallatin County. That’s the one reason I’m running for governor,” said Gianforte. “We need more high wage jobs. Because unfortunately today Montana is dead last in the country for wages for young people. The consequence of that is a lot of our young people have to leave.”

A key example that Gianforte used were families that had farms or ranches. The family business is usually passed down to the eldest child leaving their siblings to find their own jobs.

According to Gianforte, many of them have to leave the state to find work.

“Montana today is rich in natural resources and Montanans have incredible work ethic—doesn’t really add up that we’re 49th in the country in wages overall and last for wages for young people,” said Gianforte. “We don’t have the right leadership. And I’m an optimist. I believe in the potential of Montana and that with the right leadership we can create better opportunities for all Montanans. So that the ones who want to stay can.”

Recently in the news, a controversy claiming that Gianforte tried to block access to water on their property by suing to kill a public access easement in Bozeman back in 2009 has been a thorn in Gianforte’s campaign.

“So, this was a false attack. Either the governor has his facts wrong or he’s just out right lying for political gain,” said Gianforte. “We have always welcomed people on our property for stream access.”

According to Gianforte what actually happened is that the state government made a mistake in how they filed an easement. It took 18 months for Gianforte to gain the government’s attention for them to fix the issue. The issue has been fixed. 

“Again we never blocked access and we never sued to block access,” said Gianforte. “I’m in Montana because of public land access. I love the outdoors and to insinuate that we somehow denied access is just wrong.”

Gianforte isn’t a native Montanan but like many, fell in love with the land the moment he saw it. That was nearly 40 years ago on a school trip.

“So we drove out here in 1976 to Red Lodge, all the way from Pennsylvania, and spent the summer in the back country. I’ve been coming out ever since,” smiled Gianforte.

He and his wife had their first three boys on the east coast and moved to Bozeman in 1995. Their daughter was born in Bozeman.

He is an electrical engineer by trade. In his rare free time he enjoys spending time with is family and in the outdoors. 

“We love the state and I’ve never run for public office. I’m a business person and if that resonates with people, I’m ready to go to work,” said Gianforte. “I feel a deep obligation to give back and serve.”