Rep. Steve Daines’ official biography describes him as “a fifth-generation Montanan,” which implies his family’s unbroken residency in the state for a century or more. While five generations of Daines’ ancestors may have lived in Montana at one point in their lives, there was by no means a continuous presence in the state. Daines was born in California. His parents were born out of state, as were three of his four grandparents. Not what one would expect from someone who claims to be a fifth-generation Montanan.
Paul Meadows of the Montana Study observed that being a native Montanan meant, “more than having been born in the state; survival is apparently the test.” Apparently Daines’ ancestors survived by spending a lot of time out of state.
He has repeatedly told the story of his great, great grandmother who moved to Montana as a widow with seven children. This paints a touching figure of a pioneer woman who braved the wilds of Montana with small children clutching her skirts. In reality, Mrs. Dyrud was 65 when she was widowed in 1911, and all of her children were adults at the time. When some of her children decided to join the homestead boom to Montana in the 1910-1920 period, they brought their aging mother along. Not quite the image Daines would have us believe, particularly since his great-grandmother and his grandfather eventually returned to Minnesota.
None of this would matter if Daines had not chosen to make his family history the centerpiece of his campaign. By claiming to be a fifth-generation Montanan he is asking us to believe that his family were among the real Montana pioneers, who toughed it out and raised their families here despite numerous hardships. The facts suggest otherwise. Steve Daines is a phony.