One of the candidates vying for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate says where he was born and raised shouldn’t be a campaign issue, even if it's a topic raised by his opponents.
Still, Montana credentials are part of campaigns here. In fact, retired state district judge Russ Fagg pointed out during his entry into the race he’s a 4th generation Montanan. At least one blogger called Troy Downing the “California Republican.”
Downing doesn’t think this should be a valid concern among Montana voters.
"We came into this knowing that that would be something they would attack me on. And I hear that and one of the things that I want to point out is that my great grandparents they came from Norway, grew up in Iceland, and immigrated to the great state of North Dakota. I’m not even a 5th generation American," he says with a laugh.
When Downing filed his paperwork last May he told the Associated Press he has residences in Gallatin County and San Diego county, but decided to become a full-time Montana resident several years ago.
"I came here because I love this state," he says. "I love the spirit, the people, the space. There’s so much that I love about MT. I didn’t come here to change it. I came here because I love it and my intention is to preserve it."
He says he was motivated to run because of an increasing frustration with the federal government, "I'm upset. I want to be the force of change."
Downing was in Billings Tuesday for meetings with supporters. He says he plans to return to Billings again Thursday.
Downing is just one of the candidates vying for the GOP nomination during the 2018 June primary. The winner will advance to challenge incumbent Jon Tester, D-MT.