Both Democrats running for Montana attorney general agree that the present attorney general, Tim Fox, has failed in several areas.
State Rep. Kimberly Dudik, D-Missoula, points to her experience in a variety of positions to show why she believes she is the most qualified.
She has been a registered nurse, a prosecutor, worked for then-Attorney General Steve Bullock as an assistant attorney general, served as a victim’s advocate and has been a state representative from Missoula for four terms.
Although Democrats nationwide have seen an abundance of women running for office, she is one of a handful of Democratic women candidates for statewide office in Montana.
She has been a strong advocate for women’s and children’s rights.
A loyal Democrat, she has worked across the aisle to pass legislation that helped defend children and protect people in abusive relationships.
She’s been a trailblazer on several fronts. She is believed to be the first female lawmaker to give birth to a baby — her fourth — during a legislative session.
“I gave birth on Thursday and was back on the floor on Monday,“ she said. She attended the first session with her baby in her arms.
She is an advocate of criminal justice reform, especially supporting services to people who are released from prison.
“We are putting more people in prison, but are we any safer?” she asked during an interview with the Herald on Saturday.
Dudik was part of a bipartisan coalition that supported legislation aimed at making the sentencing of convicted people fairer.
She worked with many Republicans who see the value of incarcerating fewer people.
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Her opponent, Ralph Graybill, is chief counsel to Gov. Steve Bullock. This is his first try for public office.
Originally from Great Falls, he lives with his wife and child in Helena.
The family law firm in Great Falls goes back a century, and his family members are still involved.
As the governor’s lawyer, he has won cases for Bullock at the state and federal level.
The Bullock administration, Graybill and the state of New Jersey sued the Trump administration’s Internal Revenue Service. The IRS tried to unilaterally change rules making it easier for people to not disclose donations over $5,000 to nonprofits. U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris ruled in favor of the states. Supporters said the decision would help the state in its fight against dark money.
He has also prevailed in cases involving the Republican-controlled Land Board seeking to limit access to public lands.
Graybill said Fox has been lacking in his defense of consumer rights.
Because of airline mergers and other rulings, the cost of airline tickets for travel to and from Montana has become outrageous, he said.
“Why should it cost $700 to fly to Denver?” he asked.
The attorney general should file suit against airlines to protect consumer rights, he said.
He praised Fox’s decision to file suit against Purdue Pharma for allowing millions of opioid pills to be sold in the state, but he said the action should have been taken sooner.
The winner of the June 2020 Democratic primary will face the winner of the Republican primary. Thus far, former House Speaker Austin Knudsen and Deputy Attorney General Jon Bennion are vying for the GOP nomination.
Correction: This story has been updated to eliminate the section about Graybill’s role with the Disclose Act, which pre-dated his time with the governor’s office.
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