A Democrat from central North Dakota has announced – way, way early – that he’s seeking a seat on the Public Service Commission.
Casey Buchmann is from Washburn. He ran for the state House in 2016 in District 8 and earned just over 12 percent of the vote, coming in third among four candidates.
He says in his release that he wants to bring the “public” back to the PSC.
“The duty of the Public Service Commission is to protect the people’s interest and regulate in a fair, efficient, responsive, and cooperative manner. Not based on partisan ideals, but on the simple understanding that nature and people can coexist together in harmony,” he says in his release (read it in full below).
The PSC consists of three commissioners who serve six year terms. There is one commissioner on the ballot every two-year political cycle, but in 2018 there will be two seats up for grabs.
Commissioner Randy Christmann’s term will be expiring as he was elected to that seat in 2012.
Commissioner Brian Kroshus will be running to have his appointment to that seat confirmed by the voters. Governor Doug Burgum picked Kroshus to replace former Commissioner Brian Kalk who stepped down earlier this year to take a job at the University of North Dakota’s Energy and Environmental Research Center. Kalk was last elected in 2016, so his term doesn’t expire until 2020, but state law requires that someone appointed to fill a vacancy be confirmed by voters.
Buchmann told me in a text message this morning that he intends to challenge Kroshus.
Kroshus was formerly the publisher of the Bismarck Tribune, but resigned that position when he sought the North Dakota Republican Party’s endorsement to run for state auditor. Kroshus lost that endorsement bid to Josh Gallion who went on to win election to the office in November, but was appointed by Burgum to serve on the PSC earlier this year.
Buchmann, and whatever other left wing candidates may join him in the race, face an uphill challenge in trying to put a Democrat on the PSC. Since the commission was created in 1941 there’s been just one Democrat who served on it.
That’s Bruce Hagen who served from 1961 to 2000.
Here’s Buchmann’s full release: