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.