Who the hell’s Raph Graybill, you ask?
It’s a good question - I had no idea until I began writing this article. Most in Montana have never heard of him, either.
But his family has some history, and it seems he’s being talked-up as a more establishment pick for AG than the currently declared Dem candidate, Kim Dudik.
Let’s get into the family history, a bit on Raph, and the AG race in general.
As far as I can tell, the Graybill family really got their start in Montana in 1924 when Leo Graybill was born in Great Falls.
He served in the Navy in WWII, then went to Yale and got a BA before attending the school’s law school, where he got a JD in 1950. He’d get the same from UM two years later, and got admitted to the state bar that same year.
At some point he helped start the firm Graybill, Ostrem, Warner & Crotty in Great Falls. His biggest claim to fame, however, was serving as the president of the Montana Constitutional Convention in 1972. You can read his foreward to the Convention here.
Leo’s son was Turner Graybill, who was born in Great Falls in 1953.
He also attended Yale, getting a BA there in 1975 and a JD three years later. After that he was a teaching assistant at Harvard for a year.
Turner Graybill practiced law in Massachusetts, Montana and California.
It was while attending Yale that Turner met his future wife, Jessica Crist. The two were married and soon had two children Rhiannon and Raphael. They decided to move back to Montana, mostly so Turner could focus on politics.
But it wasn’t meant to be. Turner developed a brain tumor and Jessica had to spend most of her time taking care of him and the kids. She was still able to rise in her career, which was serving in the Lutheran Church.
She now serves as the Bishop of the Montana Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.
I believe it was in 1988 or 1989 that Raph was born.
He grew up in Great Falls but didn’t hit the media’s radar until Obama was running for president.
In 2008, when Raph was just 19-years-old, he became a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. His father had done the same in 1972 at the exact same age.
The Montana Democratic Party chose him as a delegate that year, indicating they either had an eye on him as an influential member of their Party going forward, or that they wanted to recognized all that his dad had done for the state.
Still, he did have to beat out 8 others in his county to get the spot, and then “10 to 15” more at the state convention. Either way, he attended the convention in Denver that year and cast his vote for Obama.
He finished out 2008 by working on several legislative and statewide elections.
A year later he was serving as a volunteer with New York’s auxiliary police while he studied political science at Columbia University. He also worked with the U.S. Senate Finance Committee on health-related legislation.
The next year he was off to England, as he’d been just one of thirty-two Americans that had earned a Rhodes Scholarship in 2010. He got a Master of Philosophy there, and then followed the family tradition of attending Yale, where he got his JD.
He worked as a law clerk with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for a year in 2015, then did a year at Susman Godfrey. Then in 2017 he became the chief legal counsel for Governor Bullock.
And that’s all I know.
Well...that’s not true - I know that no one has ever heard of this guy and then all of a sudden I’m hearing his name crop up as a possible 2020 statewide contender this week.
Accident? I don’t think so.
Two days ago the heavily-Democratic Montana Post put up favorable article about Raph Graybill and his efforts to get rid of dark money.
Raph was mentioned six times in the article, often with glowing language like so:
“In 2018, Bullock and Graybill wrote the first-in-the-nation dark money executive order requiring government contractors to disclose secret spending. Then they sued the IRS over its decision to shield dark money donors from disclosure. This is something the Montana Attorney General’s Office should have done but refused to sue the feds and defend Montanans.”
It’s pretty clear to me that the ‘powers-that-be’ in Montana Dem politics want Raph to run for something, and that something is likely AG.
He certainly has the education for it, and he has the Montana family connections, too.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens.