As we draw closer to Election Day, it’s become increasingly clear that Tim Fox has no business serving as the next Attorney General of Montana. He has run a mean-spirited, intellectually dishonest campaign that disqualifies him from serious consideration as Montana’s top law enforcement officer. Fox has proven that he lacks both the leadership and judgment to hold this critical office. If the duties of the Attorney General included whipping up hysterical, misguided fear about lost gun rights or exploiting fears about child predators, Fox would be the person for the job, but he is clearly unqualified for the real responsibilities of the position.
One is tempted to argue that Fox simply doesn’t know what the Attorney General does, based on his campaign. He has focused almost entirely on two issues: getting the pictures of sex offenders posted on the state’s web site and promising to write stern letters to Congress and legal briefs to the Supreme Court in defense of the Second Amendment. He seems much less interested in the issues that make the Attorney General’s job so important, ranging from Gambling Control to Victim Services. Of course, those duties, the core of what the Attorney General does, generate a much less visceral response from voters, and that’s exactly why Fox has ignored them in this campaign.
It’s the fact that Fox does know what the real duties of the Attorney General are that makes his campaign so beneath the office he seeks, however. Fox’s efforts to make child predators the centerpiece of his campaign has been a transparent ploy to make it seem like Steve Bullock doesn’t want to protect the children of Montana. As the Billings Gazette notes in its endorsement, “Bullock noted that the state already has a tough law to deal with child molesters and said that law needs to be enforced. Bullock wants to dedicate an attorney in the AG’s office to prosecution of sex crimes, particularly to assist small-population counties in such cases.” Bullock has a concrete plan to improve efforts to protect children, not just scare tactics.
In the same way, Fox has tried to exploit fears about the loss of gun rights to attack Bullock, again without merit. Bullock has long been a defender of the Second Amendment, and as the Independent Record notes, “both men agree on many aspects of gun rights: Both oppose efforts to ban .50 caliber ammunition and guns in Montana. Both oppose any kind of licensing for gun ownership or additional paperwork requirements for guns sold at gun shows. Both oppose limits to ownership of semiautomatic guns.” Though Fox wants to spend his time as Attorney General researching gun laws in other states and writing legal briefs about them, Bullock know what matters: protecting the rights of Montanans to own their guns.
There’s another important distinction that Fox doesn’t make in his ads. Though he wears an orange vest to show just how much he loves guns, Fox is less interested in protecting the rights of Montanans to have access to public lands for hunting and recreation. Protecting the rights of hunters means more than dressing up for the camera and pandering to the NRA; it means protecting the heritage that is so important to Montana’s sportsmen and women.
The Fox campaign was best exemplified by the centerpiece of his advertising, a sleazy hit on Steve Bullock that newspapers across the state have called dishonest. The ad, attacking Bullock on the death penalty and Second Amendment is a perfect example of the kind of politics we don’t need in Montana, and the kind of behavior we don’t need in an Attorney General. That Tim Fox has been willing to run a dishonest, childish ad to win an election is the surest sign that he doesn’t deserve the office he’s running for.
Tim Fox is simply unconcerned about the critical issues facing the Attorney General and unethical enough to do anything to win. We can do better.
Montanans are fortunate, though, to not just have to vote against Tim Fox this November. They can enthusiastically vote for Steve Bullock, a candidate with immense law experience that has been put to use protecting Montana families. Bullock has demonstrated his commitment to the state, its people, and its laws throughout his career, and will make an excellent choice for our next Attorney General.