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Graduation Date


Document Type

Professional Paper


Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Communication Studies

School or Department

Communication Studies


Montana Democratic Governor Steve Bullock won his re-election in 2016 despite a national conservative groundswell, in a state where Donald Trump also won by twenty points. Bullock would be labeled a very moderate Governor. However, he has accomplished several progressive steps forward for policy decisions in the state of Montana that include campaign finance reform, and Montana Medicaid expansion. This has led to national interest of Bullock’s success in campaigning and governing. While Bullock only just barely won both his gubernatorial bids, and has only accomplished some of his progressive goals, his rhetorical strategies that focus on narrative as a way to convey policy and action play a role in his success. Through this analysis I establish three central narratives utilized by Bullock that include “Montana is Not for Sale,” “Great Equalizers,” and “Showing Up and Listening” that are further informed by larger societal narratives like the myth of the American Dream (Rowland & Jones, 2007) and populist argument (Kazin, 1995; Lee, 2006). This analysis examines these central narratives through Fisher’s (1984) narrative paradigm and expanded theories of rhetorical narrative provided by Kirkwood (1992) and McClure (2009). Through an analysis of these narratives I explain Bullock’s achievements and limitations in conveying progressive initiatives to a conservative rural audience.


Montana, Steve Bullock, Montana Politics, Narrative Paradigm, Populism, Rhetoric

Subject Categories

Social Influence and Political Communication | Speech and Rhetorical Studies

Governor Steve Bullock's