HELENA, Mont. — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and Republican challenger Greg Gianforte are ratcheting up their campaigns and their rhetoric as early voting gets underway in Montana.

Election Day isn’t until Nov. 8, but the voting has already begun with the secretary of state’s office mailing out more than 297,000 absentee ballots last week.

Gianforte said in a recent interview that he believes only the private sector can create jobs and opportunities for workers, so his focus will be on making it easier to start and grow businesses in Montana.

Bullock says he trusts voters to judge him by the record of his first term and his plans for a second. He denounces Gianforte’s initiatives as giveaways to the wealthy and to out-of-state corporations.