We were happy to see Tim Fox win the GOP primary for state Attorney General. He made a strong run against Steve Bullock in the last election, something that may have gone largely unnoticed, given that 2008 was a blood-bath for Republicans up and down the ticket. It’s pretty common for candidates to have to make a couple of runs at an office before winning, and we’re glad that Fox took the plunge again, putting to use everything he learned in that last race, building on his grass-roots organization from four years ago.
What a difference just two years makes, though. Had Fox run in 2010 rather than 2008, he might very well have been won the election, with political winds at his back rather than in his face. That is, of course, in the realm of the unknowable. What can be discerned, however, is that 2012 promises to be another good year for the GOP if the primary vote was any measure of enthusiasm.
It may not be as difficult for Republicans as getting elected Superintendent of Public Instruction, but the Montana Attorney General position is a tough nut for the GOP to crack. Every AG candidate knows that the last person to win from the GOP was none other than some guy named Marc Racicot (and does even he really count -- wasn’t he a Democrat before that run?)
There are a couple of reasons why Republicans have such a hard time getting elected to the AG position. One reason is just statistics: the AG has to be an attorney (probably isn’t legally required to be, but who would vote for one who wasn’t?) And since there are only 13 Republican lawyers in Montana, the bench is a little thin for our side. The same goes for the Superintendent position -- generally has to be an educator, and there are, at last count, only 73 Montana educators (home-schooling moms don’t count) who are Republicans, and only half of them will admit to it.
Reason two is that the Montana lawyers who are Democrats (2,945 of them, I believe -- bet you didn’t know that we have one active lawyer for every 338 residents, did you?) have a keen interest in who the AG will be, just as they care more than anyone who is elected to Montana Supreme Court positions. So Democratic candidates have a much easier time raising money for their races than do Republicans. If there were "State Rancher General" with a seat on the Land Board, you can be sure that the Montana Stockgrowers would weigh in pretty heavily on that race. And really, why not? The lawyers get a seat and the teachers get a seat, which means that in most years the GOP has to run the table on the governor, Secretary of State, and State Auditor positions in order to win a majority. Why not a seat for the ranchers, and another one called "State Driller and/or Miner General" for those poor fossil fuels guys (excuse me, Big Oil and Big Coal.) But, as usual, we digress.
The GOP has a great candidate running in Tim Fox, and we wish him all the best. He is playing some smart cards so far, highlighting the fact that AG Steve Bullock refused to have Montana join the suit against Obamacare, in spite of the law’s deep unpopularity in Montana. He also is drawing attention to the role of the AG on the 5 member state Land Board, and the role it plays in developing Montana’s natural resources and thus in our state’s economic development.
As the race develops, there will doubtless be more coverage here on Montana Headlines. Until then, a warm good luck to Mr. Fox.