Montana's 2020 election
Montana's 2020 election
The Montana Free Press guide
Republican for Attorney General
Knudsen, an attorney from Culbertson, graduated from law school at the University of Montana and served eight years in the Montana House of Representatives, including four as one of the state’s youngest-ever speakers of the House. He was elected Roosevelt County Attorney in 2018.

Key coverage in the race for Attorney General

Race profile: Drugs, health care and budgets

Attorney General candidates Raph Graybill and Austin Knudsen are divided on their approach to the Affordable Care Act, anti-meth efforts and ongoing litigation against the tobacco industry.

Montana Lowdown: Austin Knudsen

Roosevelt County Attorney Austin Knudsen interviewed by MTFP Editor-In-Chief John Adams before the June 2020 primary

Montana Lowdown: Raph Graybill

Attorney Raph Graybill interviewed by MTFP Editor-In-Chief John Adams before the June 2020 primary

MTN News debate: Attorney General

Video of Graybill and Knudsen at their MTN News debate broadcast Sept. 18
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Fundraising and campaign spending

As a state candidate, Knudsen files campaign finance reports with the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices. See the COPP Campaign Electronic Reporting System for official records. Data shown here is current through 10/31/2020.
Total raised
Total spending
Itemized individual contributions
From committees
Note: Self-financing includes candidate contributions and campaign loans. Prior to Jan. 17, 2019, these figures underreported fundraising for state candidates by omitting unitemized contributions. Unitemized contribution totals, which include small-dollar donations, are calculated here by subtracting itemized cash contributions from reported fundraising totals.

Contributions by zip code: Austin Knudsen (R)

Portion of itemized fundraising from Montana donors
Itemized individual contributions
Number at $360 contribution limit
Note: Individual donors are limited to giving $710 per election to gubernatorial candidates and $360 per election to candidates for other statewide offices, with the primary and general contests counted as separate elections.

On the issues

Issue statements were solicited from active candidates via a written questionnaire before the June primary election. Answers were lightly edited for punctuation and spelling.

What separates you from your primary opponents as your party’s best candidate to serve as Montana's attorney general?

Actual real-world legal experience is what separates me from my primary opponent. I've spent the last 12 years as an actual practicing attorney in Montana's state and federal courts. I'm currently the full-time criminal prosecutor for Roosevelt County. I'm dealing with Montana's methamphetamine and resultant violent crime epidemic first-hand, every day. Before that, I spent 10 years in private civil law practice, representing farmers, ranchers, small business and Montanans. I'm experienced in almost every area of law you can think of, with only a few exceptions. Five of those years, I actually owned and operated my own small law firm business. My opponent has spent his entire law career in Helena, first as a lobbyist and now as a bureaucrat. He's never done a jury trial, and he's never put a criminal behind bars. On top of that, I'm a proven conservative leader, with years of votes in the Montana Legislature to back that up.

Should the state incarcerate fewer people? If so, are there specific criminal justice reform measures you support?

No. I support deferred sentences for nonviolent, first-time drug offenses that may be the result of one-time bad judgment. However, my first-hand experience as a criminal prosecutor dealing with the methamphetamine epidemic has taught me that repeat-offense dangerous drug users very often turn to more dangerous felonies, such as drug trafficking, assault, theft, sexual assault, rape, and even murder. Unless these offenders truly want to get better, treatment does not work on them.

Do you believe abortion should be legal? If so, in which situations? If Montana passed an abortion ban, would you defend it from legal challenges?

No. Life begins at conception, and a fetus is an innocent human being who deserves the law's full protection, just as any other human being. If an abortion ban was passed by the Legislature, I would defend it.

Current Attorney General Tim Fox has initiated litigation against pharmaceutical companies that have distributed opioids in Montana. Do you support that action?

Yes. Attorney General Fox, along with the Montana Medical Association, should be applauded for his efforts to combat prescription opioid abuse in Montana. Unfortunately, he and my primary opponent have not been nearly aggressive enough in combating methamphetamine in Montana. Nearly all of the meth in Montana is manufactured by the Mexican drug cartels and smuggled into the U.S. across the southern border. Attorney General Fox and my opponent have chosen not to get involved in any of the federal litigation to secure the southern border. Securing the southern border would have a tremendous positive impact on Montana's meth problem.

As the attorney general, you would be one of five seats on the Montana Land Board, which manages state trust lands. What priorities would you advocate for in that role?

This is a critical role for the attorney general. The revenue generated by the Land Board's management of state lands funds K-12 public education in Montana. Luckily, I have a decade of experience in natural resource and agriculture law, not to mention a lifetime of farm and ranch experience. Whether leasing state minerals for natural resource development, or leasing state lands for agriculture, my top priority on the Land Board will be to maximize revenue to the state of Montana to fund education. Bottom line: I've been negotiating and writing natural resource and farm/ranch leases professionally for Montanans for more than a decade. I would be glad to do it on behalf of the state of Montana.

Stay tuned for more

We'll be updating this page with new information through Election Day in November 2020.

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