(HELENA) Montana Attorney General Tim Fox has confirmed he will not challenge U.S. Sen. Jon Tester in next year’s election.
Fox released the following statement Monday:
“I ran for attorney general because I wanted to improve the state of Montana, and I’m proud of what my team and I have accomplished since I came into office. I’m going to keep my promises to the people of Montana and continue fighting for justice throughout my full second term. I look forward to continuing our work at the Department of Justice to address Montana’s escalating substance abuse problem, combat human trafficking and improve our state’s response to sexual assault and domestic violence. We still have a lot of work to do, and I’m excited for what we can, and will accomplish for Montana during my remaining time as attorney general.”
The announcement comes after the national political website Politico published a report Friday, quoting two unnamed sources who said Fox had decided not to run for Senate.
GOP leaders had tried to recruit Fox as a candidate against Tester, a Democrat who’s running for his third term in the Senate in 2018. But the Politico article said he is now more likely to run for governor in 2020, after U.S. Rep.-elect Greg Gianforte was cited for assault in a confrontation with a reporter. Gianforte, who won election to Montana’s lone U.S. House seat last month, was the 2016 Republican nominee for governor.
Fox is the second well-known statewide Republican official out of the picture for the 2018 Senate race. Many political observers in Montana had expected former U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke to run for Senate, until he was selected as U.S. Secretary of the Interior.
Two Republicans have already announced they will challenge Tester next year – state Sen. Al Olszewski of Kalispell and businessman Troy Downing of Gallatin County.