Health care, high court battle dominate Montana Senate race | Govt-and-politics

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock sought to keep the focus on health care and the pandemic in the race for a Montana U.S. Senate seat, while Republican incumbent Steve Daines put the spotlight on the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy during a heated Monday night debate.

With mail ballots going out to voters next week, the two candidates are vying for a seat considered pivotal in determining if Democrats will be able to wrest the majority from Republicans come November.

During the live debate broadcast by Montana PBS Bullock touted his aggressive early response to the coronavirus pandemic, including shutting down schools and many businesses in March. The virus hit Montana relatively lightly in the spring, only to come roaring back with record-high infections recorded in recent days.

The governor said Republicans including Daines want to roll back provisions of the Affordable Care Act that are key to making sure people have access to care.

“I’ll protect your access to health care, even in the middle of the pandemic,” Bullock said, noting that the issue was coming up soon in a case before the Supreme Court.

Democrats have warned that federal Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the nominee to replace the recently-deceased Ruth Bader Ginsburg, could tip the high court against the health care law.

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