Fagg makes case for Senate candidacy

Print Article

Russell Fagg, one of the many Republicans vying to unseat Sen. Jon Tester this November, sat down with the Daily Inter Lake’s editorial board Wednesday.

The Billings attorney and former judge argued that he could represent Montana better than the state’s senior senator.

“I think Jon Tester has lost touch,” Fagg said, citing his votes on matters ranging from a recent spending bill to the Iran nuclear deal, “and I think I’m the guy that can get the job done.”

During his two decades on the bench, Fagg said that “I’ve handled about 25,000 cases. I really feel like that really puts me in a unique position to understand the problems that Montanans face...I’ve seen the best of humanity and the worst of humanity.”

After this experience, he continued, “I know one thing: economic prosperity and good jobs helps everybody, and that’s kind of my bottom line.”

Dwelling at length on the economy during his half-hour interview, Fagg voiced particular concern about the $20 trillion U.S. national debt, and described saddling future generations with these obligations as “unconscionable.”

“While I’m very concerned about the national debt, I think if we can move from 2.5 percent growth to 3 percent growth, that will fuel the American dream.”

Asked what specific policies he would pursue to spur growth and create jobs, Fagg replied, “I believe in limited government … I’m not a Libertarian, but I believe less government is going to allow people to be entrepreneurs, run their businesses, employ people, and that’s going to spur the economy.”

While this stance echoes other Republican candidates across the state and country, Fagg made clear that “I will absolutely be able to work with Democrats … ‘Compromise’ is not a dirty word.”

If elected, he said, he could reach across the aisle on “anything to do with growing the economy and finding that balance between growing the economy, protecting the environment, [and] promoting education.”

With lawmakers agonizing over the status of the “Dreamers,” young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, Fagg said that even this heated debate could end in compromise.

“That middle ground would be: we need to vet them through a merit-based system, and if they have a job, if they’re paying taxes, if they don’t have a criminal record, if they’ve assimilated into our culture peacefully, then by all means let’s give them a path to citizenship.”

“On the other hand, if they have a criminal history, if they don’t have a job, we don’t want ‘em, and send ‘em home,” he continued. “To me, that’s a middle ground that Republicans and Democrats can come together on.” While not directed at the “Dreamers,” the Trump administration’s proposal for a “merit-based” immigration system is fiercely opposed by Democrats.

To make headway on these issues, Fagg will first have to overcome Montana’s other Republican senate candidates: Troy Downing, Matt Rosendale, Al Olszewski, Ronald Murray and William Dean.

Of these candidates, “I think I represent Montanans the best,” Fagg said, reiterating his fourth-generation credentials and time in the court and the Legislature. He also mentioned his growing list of endorsements, including from three former Montana governors.

But with nine months until the election, questions are hovering over Fagg’s candidacy. The American Democracy Legal Fund (ADLF) has filed two complaints – one, with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) alleging that he extensively campaigned prior to officially filing in violation of campaign finance law, and another, with the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, claiming that he failed to adequately disclose his financial information on candidacy forms.

“Before I ran, I read the FEC filing guidelines very carefully,” Fagg argued. “There was no basis in truth in that” first complaint. “I am 100 percent convinced it will be dismissed.”

He said he had not been served with the second complaint, but surmised that it was “more mud-slinging.”

Towardsthe end of his discussion, Fagg returned to the principles beneath his platform. “I consider myself to be center-right...I’m fiscally conservative, but I believe in education, [and] in job growth and protecting the environment.”

“I think that fits with most Montanans.”

Reporter Patrick Reilly can be reached at preilly@dailyinterlake.com, or at 758-4407.

Print Article

Read More

Snow closes Whitefish, Bigfork schools

January 23, 2019 at 6:59 am | Daily Inter Lake Schools in Whitefish and Bigfork were closed on Wednesday due to an overnight snowstorm that created unsafe road conditions, the districts announced Wednesday morning. Swan River school also closed...


Read More

Patty cake, patty cake, hit in the face

January 23, 2019 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake A woman told Kalispell Police Department she drove by a grocery store and reportedly saw a man pulling another man out of a vehicle. The men, one reportedly wearing a football jersey, the other a bak...


Read More

Kyssan Allan Brauer, infant

January 23, 2019 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake Born Dec. 30, 2018, Kyssan Allan Brauer, our little angel, was called to the Lord on Jan. 12, 2019. He is survived by his parents, Kiah Brauer and Robert Brauer, big brother Keean Brauer, maternal ...


Read More

Harold ‘Hal’ Schafer, 95

January 23, 2019 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake Hal Schafer of Columbia Falls passed away Jan.17, 2019, at the age of 95. He was born in Kalispell on May 27, 1923. He was raised in the Kalispell area until enlisting in the U.S. Marines in 1942 a...


Read More

Contact Us

(406) 755-7000
727 East Idaho
Kalispell, MT 59901

©2019 Daily Inter Lake Terms of Use Privacy Policy