MONTANANS DESERVE ANSWERS: Is Austin Knudsen Too Extreme for Montana and 3 Other Questions Ahead of the MT AG Debate

September 10, 2020

Next weekend, Montanans will hear from the two candidates running to be Montana’s next Attorney General. The choice is between Gov. Bullock’s Chief Legal Counsel Raph Graybill and extremist Austin Knudsen, former Speaker of the Montana House.

Knudsen is known for his anti-health care, anti-public lands platform, and he has earned a reputation for being too extreme for Montana. In fact, he entered the AG race because he wants to join the GOP lawsuit to take health care protections away from 429,900 Montanans with pre-existing conditions.

At the same time, enthusiasm for Democrat Raph Graybill, who is running on a pro-health care, pro-public lands, and pro-public safety message, continues to build. Graybill consistently outraises Knudsen and recent polling shows the race tied with Graybill leading by more than 10 points after voters learn about the candidates’ policy positions.

Montana is a top target for Democrats up and down the ticket this cycle. In June, the Cook Political Report shifted the AG race from Lean Republican to Toss Up after previously calling Austin Knudsen a “firebrand” and a weaker general election candidate with “less cross-over appeal.”

Heading into the debate, Montana voters deserve answers to the following questions:

1. How does Austin Knudsen explain his anti-public lands platform to veterans like Spencer Keck who are currently blocked from accessing an American Legion park in Culbertson thanks to the Knudsen family?

FACT: Austin Knudsen is dangerous for public lands.

  • Austin Knudsen is personally blocking veterans from accessing an American Legion park near Culbertson. The town and the American Legion post filed a lawsuit against Knudsen and his family for this anti-public lands practice.
  • Austin Knudsen personally killed a bill that would have increased fines on landowners like him who block access to public roads.
  • Austin Knudsen voted for a bill that would have limited Montana’s ability to acquire new public land.
  • Austin Knudsen voted to restrict access to public streams and voted to defund Habitat Montana, a program supported by the current Republican AG Tim Fox.
  • Austin Knudsen supports the transfer of federal public lands, which could lead to their sale to corporate interests.

Raph Graybill
proactively released a Montana-based public lands plan, which includes creating a position dedicated to making sure locked gates blocking access to public lands are addressed. Just last year, Graybill successfully defended access to public lands in the Montana Supreme Court.


2. Why won’t Austin Knudsen defend protections for 429,900 Montanans with pre-existing conditions and protect funding for rural hospitals?

FACT: Austin Knudsen is dangerous for health care.

  • Austin Knudsen entered the race for Attorney General because Republican AG Tim Fox refused to sign on to an out-of-state lawsuit that would eliminate the Affordable Care Act.
  • If Austin Knudsen gets his way and the Affordable Care Act is eliminated, 112,000 Montanans will lose health care coverage and 429,900 Montanans with pre-existing conditions will face increased health care costs.
  • Austin Knudsen does not support Medicaid expansion, which provides crucial funding to rural hospitals throughout Montana.
  • Austin Knudsen said he still wants to use taxpayer dollars to end the Affordable Care Act, even in the midst of a global pandemic.
  • As Speaker of the House, Austin Knudsen voted against the HELP Act, which would have expanded health coverage to 90,000 Montanans.

Raph Graybill
released a Montana-first health care plan, in which he vows to defend protections for people with pre-existing conditions and address the cost of prescription drugs.


3. Why hasn’t Austin Knudsen condemned extremists who preach dangerous, anti-government beliefs that threaten Montanans public safety?

FACT: Austin Knudsen is too extreme for Montana.

  • Austin Knudsen amplified the voices of QAnon conspiracy theorists and dangerous militia groups like The Oathkeepers.
  • Austin Knudsen appeared at an event with fringe candidates who have supported anti-government movements that seek to get rid of law enforcement.
  • Austin Knudsen supports defunding the Montana DOJ in an attempt to eliminate key law enforcement officers like highway patrol.

Raph Graybill’s
extensive court room experience and public safety focus is unmatched. Unlike Knudsen, Graybill argued and won cases on behalf of Montanans in the Montana Supreme Court, served as an auxiliary law enforcement officer, and earned the endorsement of Montana’s first responders.


4. How does Austin Knudsen explain his attacks on Montana women and families?

FACT: Austin Knudsen is dangerous for Montana women.

  • Austin Knudsen let equal pay legislation die in committee when he served as Speaker of the House.
  • Austin Knudsen supports repealing the Affordable Care Act, which would allow insurance companies to discriminate against women.
  • As speaker of the House, Austin Knudsen instituted a sexist dress code telling female lawmakers to “be sensitive to skirt lengths and necklines.”

Raph Graybill
supports the Affordable Care Act, the Equal Rights Amendment, and reproductive rights. Raph is also endorsed by the Montana National Organization for Women.


For additional information about the state of the Montana AG race, read more here.

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