Russ Fagg Hammers Matt Rosendale for Campaigning on the State’s Dime at Sparsely Attended GOP Event

At a candidate forum in Missoula Wednesday night attended by at least 9 people not affiliated with one of the campaigns, Russ Fagg decided to come out swinging against Matt Rosendale, the apparent frontrunner in the Republican Senate primary.

Echoing a post from this site from two weeks ago, Fagg criticized Mr. Rosendale for his decision to schedule a state-funded tour of the state in the middle of a primary election. From the Ravalli Republic:

In another line of attack, Fagg criticized Rosendale over his recent Invest in Montana tour conducted as state Commissioner of Securities and Exchange over the last month.

“It’s a 19-city tour paid for with a state slush fund,” Fagg said. “He’s taking workers, people from his office, on the Montana slush fund,” Fagg said. “He should have done it last year, but in the middle of the campaign it just doesn’t pass the smell test. At the end of the day, these are the things Democrats are going to bring up that makes Matt unelectable in November.”

Honestly, I think Fagg was harder on Rosendale than I was, but he’s certainly right. Rosendale, whose arbitrary budget reductions and mistreatment of staff has already reduced the efficiency of the Auditor’s office, is doing even more harm by forcing staff to follow him around on a thinly-veiled campaign tour that neatly coincides with campaign events and never seems to conflict with events like tonight’s Missoula forum.

With Rosendale almost certainly the favorite to win, I think we can all look forward to more attacks from Fagg and the other Republican candidates and not just because Rosendale provides so many obvious avenues for criticism.

In other news from the forum, California’s Troy Downing, in attempting to walk back his tone-deaf ad attacking Senator Tester for having been a teacher, managed to insult teachers, suggesting they’re not smart enough to be in Congress:

Downing, a military pilot, also referenced a recent campaign ad he’s run on television criticizing Tester. The ad shows a fighter jet knocking a fake trumpet-playing Tester, a former music teacher, off a tractor.

“Nothing wrong with a retired music teacher. We need our teachers, that’s great, but that is not a skill set that gets problems solved in D.C.,” Downing said.

This teacher may not be smart enough to solve the problems in D.C., but I’m not sure that a guy who isn’t smart enough to know what state he’s filing his taxes in is really in a position to talk about who is and is not qualified to represent us in Washington. More on that later this week.

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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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