As the political season continues, KGVO brings candidates to Talk Back to take calls from listeners and viewers of our Facebook Live feed.

Appearing on Friday was Republican Attorney General candidate Austin Knudsen who is the current County Attorney in Northeast Montana’s Roosevelt County. Knudsen is a former legislator who was the Republican Speaker of the House for two terms.

He called out current Republican Attorney General Tim Fox for his spending during his two terms in office.

“Every other statewide Republican that’s come into office has reduced their budget,” said Knudsen. “That’s what Republicans do and that’s what conservatives do. We do more with less and we reduce the size of government. The only agency in state government controlled by Republicans that hasn’t done that is the Attorney General’s office, and I guess that goes back to being a real conservative.”

Knudsen provided details of how, in his view, costs in the AG’s office have risen under Tim Fox.

“We’ve seen a $20 million budget increase over the eight years of the Fox administration, while at the same time we’ve seen a 68 percent increase in the murder rate in the state of Montana, as well as a 30 percent increase in violent crime, and according to the feds it’s 36 percent,” he said. “With that in mind, I think that there are certainly areas in the Department of Justice where I think those funds could have been spent a lot better.”

Knudsen also chided his fellow Republican primary opponent Jon Bennion, the current Chief Deputy Attorney General under Fox.

“My primary opponent (Jon Bennion), a very nice guy, I’ve known him for years, and I don’t speak ill of my opponent at all personally, but professionally, he’s inexperienced,” he said. “He’s been a lobbyist in Helena and he’s been a bureaucrat in Helena, but he’s never been out and actually practiced law.”

In the Democratic primary the candidates are Kimberly Dudik of Missoula, James Cossett and Raph Graybill.