Let’s Talk About Troy Downing For a Moment

Let’s talk for a moment about California Republican candidate for the Montana Senate Troy Downing. While the post was sparked by his announcement on Twitter this morning of his first campaign ad, an ad that combines amateurish production values and Zinkean self-regard, I do not come today to praise his ad but to revel in his candidacy.

It’s hard not to start with the residency question. While Downing has lived in Big Sky intermittently for some time, it’s not clear how long he has lived in the state. Reports about how long he has lived here seem very vague, like this line from a Great Falls Tribune story that noted Downing “decided to become a full-time Montana resident several years ago.” Perhaps it doesn’t matter where Downing is from, but I’d expect him to at least have the intellectual honesty to tell us just how long he’s been here.

I have requested Mr. Downing’s voter history from Gallatin County and will report back when I receive it.

And one would hope he’d spare us the lectures about how he really understands Montana, unlike Jon Tester. I suspect the experiences of a dirt farmer and former teacher from Big Sandy are a bit closer to the experiences of most Montanans than the experiences of a part-time resident of the Yellowstone Club who moved to Montana sometime during the Obama Administration. Or maybe later, for all we know.

Downing will certainly have one major problem in his candidacy other than his residency. In a state that Donald Trump carried by twenty points, Downing was an early, vocal critic of The Greatest President of All Time. As The Hill reported in May:

On Sept. 7, 2015, Downing tweeted that Trump “cracks me up” and said that he wasn’t electable.

Months later, he tweeted on March 3, 2016 that Trump is “either a liar or an idiot.” And on Aug. 3, 2016, he tweeted about a Trump robocall and used the hashtag #NeverTrumpNeverHillary, a reference to the “#NeverTrump” movement of Republicans who rejected their party’s nominee.

When challenged on those tweets, Downing bravely reversed course and told the AP that he’d come around:

He said in the interview he may have had his doubts about the president when he was a candidate, but he now believes that Trump’s administration will improve the nation’s economy and security.

Try to imagine the judgment a person would have to possess to conclude four months into the Trump Administration that his chaotic tenure was good for American economic or military security.

As leading Republicans in Montana like Steve Daines, Greg Gianforte, and Matt Rosendale fall all over themselves to praise the Dear Leader, Downing’s initial position on the president certainly won’t endear him to the conservative base of the party, and his belated efforts to jump on the Trump Train couldn’t come at a worse time as even Republicans are starting to realize the disaster of the Trump presidency.

Downing also has an odd penchant for sending in his press releases to the worst news site in the state, Montana News. Perhaps because his anemic campaign and threadbare conservative cliches haven’t rated much from the traditional media or even blogs, Downing has been sending his press releases and letters to the Billings Montana News, a publisher aptly described by Ed Kemmick as “The Accidental Onion.”

Elections should be about more than indulging the ego of wealthy people and about the concerns of average Montanans who are less interested in scare tactics about guns and more interested in leaders like Senator Tester who keeps putting his head down and getting work done. Let’s hope Mr. Downing realizes the issues that really matter if he wants to be taken seriously as a candidate for the Senate.

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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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a 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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  • Unfortunately, there are a few too many voters – including Montana voters – who are more than willing to indulge the ego of wealthy people because they have been duped into thinking that those wealthy people care about them.

  • Re: the Downing campaign spot — I happen to think the production values are quite high and it’s a compelling storyline, Don. He spent some money on it. That said, someone who lives at the Yellowstone Club probably won’t represent the interests of your average Montanan.

    It should be an interesting primary: the battle of the millionaires (Rosendale and Downing) with some minor characters thrown in for chuckles. We’ll also see who tacks furthest to the right to pick up the Trump block. Maybe it should be settled by which candidate can shoot a drone out of the sky first.

    It’s funny (not funny ha-ha) on how Republicans’ allegiance to Trump ebbs and flows. Most of them, with the exception of Zinke, thought Trump was a joke until he won in Montana by 20 points. Now they love, love, love him. We’ll see how quickly they jump ship when the Trump administration continues to tank.

    • You’re certainly more knowledgeable about the production values of the video, Pete. My perception of its quality was probably compromised by the spit take I took when he reenacted the moment he learned about the 9/11 attacks.

    • I agree with Pete: very high production values. And the camera angles are interesting. Mostly the camera, and thus the viewer, is looking up, almost worshipfully, at Downing. He’s presenting himself as a Cincinnatus, as a man on a white horse riding to rescue Montana from a just-not-up-to-it liberal on a green tractor who doesn’t recognize, and therefore cannot fight, the rising menace of Montana’s Muslim fifth column.

  • Correction: Downing is NOT a part-time resident of the Yellowstone Club. His home is in the town of Big Sky, not the YC. He has been in town for a long time… at least since late 1990s. I barely know him but suspect he leaves town quite a bit in spring and fall like many folks do. Apparently hunts and fishes and skis and is a pilot. After making a fortune with start-up at Yahoo, he volunteered for military after 9/11. Fought in the Middle East. Don’t see that everyday.

  • It’s a real shame Downing started airing his schlocky, hokey ad on the same day news broke of his out-of-state status and the hunting violations he committed.

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