Missoula Rep. Kimberly Dudik announces candidacy for Montana attorney general

Gov. Steve Bullock signs several bills introduced by Missoula Rep. Kim Dudik during the 2017 session. Dudik on Monday announced her candidacy for Montana attorney general. (Freddy Monares/UM Legislative News Service)

State Rep. Kimberly Dudik on Monday announced her candidacy for Montana attorney general, a statewide seat that opens in 2020 when sitting AG Tim Fox is termed out after eight years in office.

Dudik, a Missoula attorney and small-business owner starting her seventh year in the Legislature, said criminal justice reform and public safety stand high on her radar.

“I’ve served in the Legislature for six years now, and I’ll be starting my seventh and eighth year come January,” she told the Missoula Current. “I’ve been able to build some great bipartisan collaboration to move Montana forward in criminal justice and the public safety arena.”

Dudik said others from both of Montana’s major political parties have encouraged her to continue that work by seeking statewide office.

While the campaign may be months away, Dudik unveiled her priorities with Monday’s announcement, including a Child Justice Initiative, a Senior Protection Initiative and a Veterans Justice Initiative.

Her platform also includes an initiative to end substance abuse, establish a public integrity division, and an office for Native American affairs.

“All of those things are in the wheelhouse of the attorney general,” Dudik said. “They’ve been used successfully in other states, and we should be using those tools in our state here to make our citizens’ lives better.”

After completing six years in the Legislature, Dudik said she’s proud of the improvements made in public safety. She said her record working across the aisle to reform government has led to significant improvements.

Dudik said she worked closely with Fox in achieving several statewide goals.

“Statewide, we’ve worked very well on improving our human trafficking laws, and dealing with the backlog of untested sexual assault kits,” Dudik said. “I look forward to working to improve our DUI lab, and we’re continuing to improve the State Crime Lab.”

Dudik said improvements are still needed for Montana’s children, seniors and veterans seeking justice. Focusing on the underlying causes of criminal behavior, such as substance abuse and mental health disorders, is also needed.

“Providing a dedicated office to partner with Native American communities will have far-reaching impacts because these issues affect us all,” she said. “Montanans also need confidence in their government and a transparent way to handle complaints about public misconduct. The Public Integrity Division will provide Montanans with this tool.”