"At one time, I thought my lieutenant governor was simply going to slide into the governor's chair"

jack dalrymple

Over the weekend the Grand Forks Herald published an interesting question-and-answer with Governor Jack Dalrymple.

You can read the whole thing here, but I thought this exchange about the NDGOP’s 2016 race was pretty interesting:

Q: North Dakotans now have three Republicans (Rick Becker, Doug Burgum and Wayne Stenehjem) vying to be governor in this year’s election. When you were nominated for governor, Burgum spoke on your behalf. Are you going to return the favor?

Actually, he was co-chair of my campaign. He has brought that up already, and I think he mentioned that he was honorary co-chair for (former Gov. Ed) Schafer and (U.S. Sen. John) Hoeven as well. So that wasn’t dumb.

It’s a very, very interesting situation in the governor’s race.

I would not have imagined any of this because at one time, I thought my lieutenant governor was simply going to slide into the governor’s chair, and life would be very simple in 2016. So it’s already way more complicated than I thought it was going to be.

What can I say? Wayne and Doug are great people, and I love that they have to impress the Republicans of North Dakota and try to win their support. It’s exactly as it should be. It’ll be interesting to watch.

First, the comments about Lt. Governor Drew Wrigley stand out starkly, and illustrate just how much of a game changer the scandal over his affair last year really was. If news of it hadn’t broke, what would the 2016 race have looked like?

Would Stenehjem have gotten in the race? He was certainly…deliberate in announcing his campaign, and his official announcement came well after news of Wrigley’s affair broke.

Would Burgum have gotten into the race? Would Becker? Who knows. It’s all water under the bridge now.

Second, it’s interesting that Dalrymple doesn’t mention Becker at all in the interview. He talks about “Wayne and Doug,” indicating that Dalrymple doesn’t see Becker as much of a part of the race. Which is a slight to Becker because, while I think the odds of his winning are long, his presence in the race with a small but loyal following will have a great deal of influence both at the NDGOP’s nominating convention and, should he choose to take his campaign that far, the June primary.

Dalrymple also talks about the state’s budget situation, and the impending budget cuts (“allotments” is what we’re calling them), so the whole interview is worth a read.