Montana Politics

Tim Fox, Montana’s William McKinley, Continues His Cowardly Campaign

In 1896, William McKinley won election as President of the United States without campaigning while his puppet master Mark Hanna raised millions of dollars from corporate donors and millionaires. McKinley stayed on his front porch, unwilling to speak to the press or even advocate for specific positions he would take in office. He won election handily before serving his corporate bosses well as President.

It seems Tim Fox is using the McKinley handbook in his race for Attorney General—and it might succeed. While he has been backed with hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars from industries like pharmaceuticals, tobacco, and insurance, Fox has refused to face Montana voters. As I noted last month, it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to figure out why these companies would invest so heavily in Fox: the combination of inexperience, poor judgment, and weak ethics make him the perfect candidate for corporate interests.

Professor Greg Munro explains quite well why these corporations are backing Mr. Fox. He’d do their bidding:

The people making this “investment” are engaging in what Monty Python would call a “wink wink nudge nudge” about Fox’s loyalties and independence should they succeed in hiring him as our attorney. If this works for the corporations, Montanans will truly have a Fox guarding the henhouse.

Tim Fox Campaign Speech

While taking this cash to pay for dishonest advertisements about his record, Fox has studiously avoided any opportunity for the media or public to ask him about his experience for the Attorney General’s office or the positions he will take once in office. He’s ducked almost every candidate forum, refused to debate, and even hid from a joint interview on local news here in Helena. He’s even benefited from his corporate backers breaking Montana election law to the tune of nearly $600,000.

Somehow, we’re meant to believe that an Attorney General who lacks the courage and intellect to face the media will have the intellectual chops to represent Montana in front the the Supreme Court?

If Tim Fox wins election as Montana’s Attorney General next week, it will represent a profound failure by the media to expose a candidate who was simply too afraid to face voters, the press, and Montana citizens as he ran for office. Every newspaper in the state should have run an editorial condemning Mr. Fox’s unwillingness to discuss issues or even make his case for the job. Our local newspaper even gave him a free pass when he refused to meet with the editorial board in town he lives and works in.

Back in the primary season, Fox said one true thing, telling KMPT Radio:

“It’s certainly not a place to be trying to do a little on the job training.”

He’s absolutely right. Fox has none of the experience necessary to be our Attorney General. He’s never prosecuted a case, never had an important leadership role in a state

agency, and never even answered basic questions for the press or public. He lacks the experience necessary for the position, and understanding of what the Attorney General does, and the temperament to lead such a critical department.

We don’t need a candidate who owes his position to corporate masters who’ve campaigned for him. We don’t need an Attorney General who doesn’t understand the position. We don’t need Tim Fox.

Vote for Pam Bucy, the experienced candidate who is willing to face the public, talk to the press, and do the job well.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.


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  • Excellent essay. I wonder whether he concluded he didn’t have to campaign because Montana isn’t ready for an AG who’s a woman and therefore voters will choose the man on the ballot. If he wins, I hope Fox doesn’t conclude his tenure in the same way McKinley did.

  • You certainly could be right about his lack of qualifications. A couple of points, however: One, going out and beating the bushes touting one’s own qualifications, prior to the 20th century, was not the normal mode of campaigning. It was done by surrogates. Since newspapers were the primary means of communication, what point was there in reaching .001% of the population by barnstorming? McKinley had it right.

    Two, the way we do campaigns now is hardly more informative. Debates are staged and moderators chosen based on lack of insight and combativeness. Ads are all that matter. Any damned fool, with money backing, can be considered viable and electable in our current system. McKinley on his porch was no less obscure than our current candidates and modern media. It’s all a illusion. I’d much prefer candidates stay home and just write down their thoughts, if they have any.

    • ” A couple of points, however: One, going out and beating the bushes touting one’s own qualifications, prior to the 20th century, was not the normal mode of campaigning.”

      The contrast with his opponent, William Jennings Bryan, makes a mockery of your statement. I too think that a candidate should focus on their ideas, not their messaging, but it takes messaging and personality to motivate the population as a whole, and to overcome the advantage money confers upon candidates who rely on advertising and surrogates. Debates are imperfect, for sure, but they at least force a candidate to share the spotlight on equal terms with their adversaries. Fox, like McKinley, is counting on the money advantage to translate to an messaging advantage; never face your opponent in a debate or forum, and the publicity and messaging will be determined only by campaign resources.

      • Then you too are unhappy with the presidential debates that exclude non-big-money candidates. This is news to me.

        I did not say that debates were imperfect. I said they are ” staged, and moderators chosen based on lack of insight and combativeness.” You said “imperfect”. What I said and what you said are two very different things.

        • There’s a reason I used different words – because the words you used were wrong. Or rather, irrelevant. We’re talking about a state-level down ticket race. The debates, should they occur, would not be staged, and they may well include a third party candidate. Tim Fox wants none of that, and it’s not because he’s unhappy with the format of the debates, he’s unhappy with the prospect of having to discuss issues while giving his opponents equal time that they don’t have to pay for.

      • At least we agree presidential debates are a farce. Down ticket, placement of professional journalists as moderators does protect candidates and stifle debate. Prior agreement on questions makes them too a farce.

        • Obviously, they are not debates in any true sense. Their value is not their value. Their value is as a highly publicized campaign ad where both candidates get equal time. This isn’t really relevant on the presidential level, but for races with less media coverage debates and candidate forums can rob campaign funding of a great portion of its importance.

  • He was a Marky Ratco appointee! Enuff said. Ratco SCOURED Montana, leaving no rock unturned, for the sleezeeist, cheezeeist, most venal slimeballs he could find. And it worked. Fox has NO record to run on, nor qualifications other than being open for business, the corporate PIMP business! Sad, so sad.

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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