Replacing Rosendale


Troy Downing, Republican candidate for Montana's eastern U.S. House seat

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Posted at 9:00 PM, May 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-01 23:25:00-04

HELENA — State Auditor Troy Downing says he's had a record in business, in the military and in his current office that make him the strongest Republican candidate in Montana's eastern U.S. House race.

“I think that's what voters want,” he said. “They want somebody that's going to show up, roll up their sleeves, do the work – that understands what it's like to build a business, understand what it's like to go to war, understand what it's like to sign the front of a payroll check, and they want people that have that relevant experience. I think that that's really what's been resonating.”

(Watch: MTN's profile on Troy Downing)

Troy Downing, Republican candidate for Montana's eastern U.S. House seat

Downing, 57, grew up in California. He’s had a varied career, including time working at New York University, in startup tech companies and as an investor in commercial real estate. Eventually he built up nationwide business in self-storage and insurance. After 9/11, he enlisted in the Air Force – serving in two deployments to Afghanistan, where he flew as part of a combat search and rescue squadron. He then continued to serve in the Air National Guard.

Downing has had a home in Montana since 1998, first in Big Sky, then in Gallatin Gateway, and now in Helena. His first Montana political campaign came in 2018, when he ran in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate. Two years later, he was elected state auditor, where he regulates insurance and the financial industry in Montana.

“I've been a regulated business, having to deal with a lot of things that just didn't make sense and made it hard to do business,” he said. “So how can I work with industry to find where we can make it easier for them to thrive without disadvantaging the consumer – because that's our prime directive, is protecting the consumer. And I think, since I've been in office, we've knocked it out of the park.”

Downing gave up a chance to run for reelection to seek the House seat. He says the biggest concerns he hears from voters are on security and the economy.

Downing says there’s a growing issue with crime across the district – beyond the larger cities – which he believes is tied in with a need for stricter security at the southern border.

“We have a boat that's just filled with water, and we've got a huge hole in the bottom,” he said. “We need to plug that hole, which is the southern border. Then we need to deal with the problem that we're dealing with right now of the drugs, the crime, the violence and all the other things that are happening, just because our law enforcement are being overtaxed – they just don't have the jail cells or the boots on the ground to keep up with it all.”

He says he also sees people concerned about their families’ opportunities for a better life. He argues the government’s “fiscal irresponsibility” is weakening the U.S. and threatening the American Dream.

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale has become known in Congress for raising alarms about federal spending, often pushing back against GOP leadership to make a point about the budgeting process. Downing says he shares the concerns Rosendale brought up.

“We need to rein in spending and we need to increase productivity,” he said. “We need to grow the economy, and those are the two that that come together to start closing that gap. Would I have been on every one of Rosendale's votes? No, but those ones that matter, like on the budget, on spending, I think are absolutely germane to fixing some of the biggest problems we're facing as a nation.”

Troy Downing
Republican Troy Downing filed his candidacy for Montana's eastern U.S. House seat Mar. 11, 2024 at the Montana Secretary of State's Office.

Downing said agriculture isn’t only an important economic driver for eastern Montana, it’s also a security issue for the country to maintain control of food production. He views energy independence – and continued production of oil, gas and coal – in the same way.

“Those traditional things are still big issues that are not just integral to the Montana economy, not just integral to the 2nd Congressional District, but integral to these United States of America, because that is a national security issue,” he said.

Asked about abortion policy, Downing said it’s an issue he feels strongly about because he was born as an unplanned pregnancy to an unmarried mother.

“Me personally, I'm going to bring God into it – I think God has a plan for every life, and it's not the purview of man to deny that plan for any innocent life,” he said.

Downing says he’ll make the case that what sets him apart from other candidates is knowing how to get things done.

“You need somebody that's going to actually show up, has the background to understand the problems – not just the high-level platitudes that you hear in a typical stump speech, but actually understands how things work and what the pressures are, what the unintended consequences are, and is willing to surround themselves with smart people to come up with solutions to make things better for all of us,” he said.

Downing is among 12 candidates, including eight Republicans, running for the eastern district House seat. You can find interviews with all of them here.