Current Attorney General Tim Fox and Republican Attorney General candidate Jon Bennion have been taking some victory laps online after the Montana Supreme Court ruled that the city of Missoula could not enforce its regulations on gun ownership. While Fox did win the case before the Montana Court, it’s far from clear that he took the leadership role he’s claiming.
According to Republican Austin Knudsen, who is running against Benion in the primary for Attorney General, he’s the reason the law was challenged, and Fox and Bennion were hardly the leaders they are claiming to be:
Now, a person would be pretty foolish to take anything Austin Knudsen—the kind of person who’d block the American Legion and his hometown from accessing a park—but the spat illustrates what will likely be the fault line in the Republican Primary. Knudsen, who somehow believes that the Fox-led Department of Justice has been insufficiently conservative, will run as the “real” conservative, while Bennion will attempt to court those conservative voters before pivoting hard left to appeal to the center in the general election.
Knudsen might just be right about Bennion. He has seemed more interested in bipartisanship and reaching across the aisle, and would almost certainly be a more moderate voice as Attorney General. It’s not hard to imagine that he’d be a younger, more socially progressive version of Tim Fox, and perhaps one who wouldn’t feel the need to pander to the discriminatory wing of the Republican Party.
But no matter who deserves the credit for undermining the right of the people of Missoula to govern themselves, if we’re to have any hope that the next Attorney General cares about the rights of all Montanans, not just those who own guns, the spat between Bennion and Knudsen isn’t what will matter. It’s about ensuring that our next Attorney General—no matter who wins their primary—is one of the Democrats.