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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox To Run For Governor

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox speaks during a Trump campaign rally in Great Falls, Montana, July 5, 2018.
Corin Cates-Carney
Montana Attorney General Tim Fox speaks during a Trump campaign rally in Great Falls, Montana, July 5, 2018.

It’s official, Tim Foxhas announced that he’s running for governor.

"I feel I have a calling to public service," Fox says. "I’ve been Montana’s attorney general for the last six years, I have actually a dozen years in public service all told. I think I’ve been an effective and responsible leader, with a lot of results."

I was granted ten minutes with Fox, who enters the race to be the Republican party’s candidate three weeks after Secretary of State Corey Stapleton announced his campaign. Fox, who is term-limited from running for attorney general again, pointed out that Republicans have lost the last four governor’s races. When I asked him why, he took a veiled swipe at Stapleton.

TIM FOX: It’s important, I think, for those statewide elected Republicans to stay in their incumbencies. They’re all able to run for re-election, it’s important that we hold those offices. If there’s been any one thing that has I think contributed to keeping Montana Republicans from winning the governor’s office, it’s this contested primary issue. When you have good candidates battering and bloodying one another, whoever comes out has a difficult time in a general election.

ERIC WHITNEY: Have you spoken with Mr. Stapleton and made the argument that incumbents need to stay in office?

TF: I haven’t. Everybody’s going to do what they feel they want to do for themselves. I’m going to do what I think is good for Montana and Montana Republicans rather than what’s good for me.

Fox emphasized his conservative credentials, which some Republicans have questioned. He pointed out that he joined Montana to a lawsuit in which nuns successfully challenged an Affordable Care Act requirement to provide reproductive health care, and he opposed Gov. Bullock’s endorsement of the Obama administration’s Clean Air Act. I asked Fox what he thinks the future of coal is in Montana.

TF: We need an all-of-the-above economy. We need to look at all the different ways that Montana has been great in the past, and what will make Montana great in the future. Certainly, our agricultural industry is the number one priority for me, it’s the number one thing for in making our economy great in this state. We need to get the government off the backs of our farmers and ranchers. We need to make sure that we have a government that works for them. Natural resource industries have been huge throughout the state, and we’ve had a record, I think, for many years of having responsible natural resource development. That’s not been a priority of the last two governors we’ve had, and it’s something we need to go back and take a look at, whether it be oil, gas or coal. Our logging industry has been hurt very bad, we need to make sure that government gets off their back as well. So tourism, recreation and certainly, new technologies, new industries, those are all things that we need to promote and bring to Montana. 

While not an officially declared candidate this fall, Fox was on stage during more than one of President Trump’s four visits to Montana, when the President was campaigning for Senate candidate Matt Rosendale. I asked Fox if he plans to run a Trump-style disruptive campaign for governor.

TF: I will campaign hard. I will campaign thoughtfully, and I will listen and learn, and will come up with great platforms and will win." 

Fox is a Montana native from Hardin. A date for Montana’s Republican primary election has not yet been set.

Eric Whitney is NPR's Mountain West/Great Plains Bureau Chief, and was the former news director for Montana Public Radio.
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