“His mother wanted to deliver him [there] because her family lived there,” Chuck Johnson told us. “They returned to Montana a few days later on the train, making him ‘a coast-to-coast baby.’”
One of the best places to get Mike Cooney information is on the Montana Secretary of State page.
The piece was written by Chuck Johnson and details Mike Cooney’s early history, and his family’s history.
Yes, the Cooney family has a long history in Montana. That’s one of the reasons I wish I was in Helena today – to go to the Montana Historical Society to pull up his folder and those of his family members.
You’ll remember that Cooney’s grandpa was both governor and lieutenant governor of Montana.
I profiled this in my book Feds and Farmers and we’ll get into a bit in a future post.
Heading over to Ballotpedia gives us a look at Mike Cooney’s election history. We can get similar information at Vote Smart.
That’s how I got this Mike Cooney timeline:
- In 1972 Cooney graduated from Butte High. He headed to Missoula and began studying journalism at UM. During the summers he worked at KXLF-TV in Butte. It was during his time in Missoula that he first met Max Baucus, “a political newcomer” that was “stopping by dorm rooms to campaign for the Legislature.”
- From 1972 to 1979 Cooney worked as an Officer for the Cooney Food Brockerage. The firm started in 1894 by Frank Cooney, who served as Montana’s 8th Governor from 1933 until his death in office in 1935.
- In 1974 Cooney went to work as the “advance man” for Max Baucus’s campaign to unseat Dick Shoup from Montana’s western U.S. House District. He dropped out of UM to do this, which required him travelling around the state.
- In 1975, after Baucus was elected, Cooney went back to UM, this time majoring in political science.
- In 1976 Cooney’s dad died at the age of 60. Mike Cooney’s dad was Rod Cooney, a “New Deal Democrat” who “slapped a Lyndon Johnson bumper sticker on the side of the headboard” on his side of the bed while his wife “affixed a Barry Goldwater sticker on her side.” It was in August and he “stayed home from UM to help his mother.” He also decided to run for the Montana House, District 83 out of Butte. He was 21-years old and faced a 3-way primary against Larry Buckley and Joe Hughes. He won, picking up 1,044 votes to Buckley’s 450 and Hughes’ 421.
- From 1977 to 1980 Cooney was in the Montana House of Representatives.
- From 1977 to 1989 Cooney worked for Senator Max Baucus.
- In 1979 Cooney got his BS from the University of Montana.
- In 1979 Cooney married Dee Ann Gribble, “whom he had met when she worked part-time at a movie theater in Butte and had dated for five years.” They now have three children.
- In 1989 Cooney moved his family to Washington D.C. to become Baucus’ executive assistant.
- In 1988 Cooney ran for Montana Secretary of State. He was unopposed in the primary and picked up 92,108 votes. He faced Pete Story in the General that year, with Larry Dodge running as a Libertarian. Cooney won with 174,917 votes to Story’s 163,830 (Dodge picked up 16,174). Cooney would serve 3 terms, until 2001.
- In 1989 Cooney began serving as Montana Secretary of State. He was “stunned” by office politics, where workers were “expected to pony up money for my political activities,” as they had been expected to do under Jim Waltermire’s tenure. Cooney put an immediate stop to that.
- In 1995 Cooney was “hired to help an insurance group lobby during the 1995 Legislature.”
- In 2000 Cooney ran for Governor and lost.
- From 2001 to 2006 Cooney was Executive Director of Montana Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies.
- In 2002 Cooney ran for the Montana Senate District 26 and won against Mary Jo Fox, 5,314 votes to 2,487. The IR called it a “rancorous race.” Cooney spent $25,000 in the race against Fox’s $50,000 (Fox was a former advisor and campaign manager to Marc Racicot).
- In 2006 Cooney was reelected to the Montana Senate for District 40 over Bob Leach, 5,871 votes to 2,739. He got $8,064 in campaign donations that cycle.
- Based on Cooney’s time in office, he has a 50% rating from the MT Stockgrowers Association, 24% from the Montana Chamber of Commerce, 30% from the Montana Contractor’s Association, and 13% from the Montana Family Foundation.
- On the other hand, Cooney has a 100% rating from the Montana Women’s Lobby, 100% from Montana Audubon, 80% from the AFL-CIO, 75% from Montana Human Rights Network, and a 100 rating from the Montana League of Rural Voters.
- From 2006 to 2015 he was the Division Administrator at the Department of Labor.
- In 2010 Cooney was named as interim director of the Montana Historical Society when Richard Sims stepped down.
Now he’s Montana’s 32nd Lieutenant Governor.