It seems there’s an effort afoot to rebrand new North Dakota Democrat Chairwoman Kylie Oversen, who is also a state lawmaker from Grand Forks, into a moderate.
Indeed, the Fargo Forum editorial board did as much today giving Oversen “prairie roses” for her election as chair, describing her as a “hard-working, sensible centrist.”
That’s laughable, and it should be challenged because it’s important to understand the policy history behind someone who is supposedly (more on that in a moment) leading one of the state’s two major political parties.
Thankfully we here at SAB keep track of that sort of thing.
Oversen is still in her first term, so she’s only participated in two legislative sessions so far (the 2013 and 2015 sessions). Each time she’s put up a voting record that is way to the left of not only the rest of the legislature but of her own party as well.
According to our rankings of lawmakers by ideology, on a left-to-right scale, Oversen’s voting record during the 2015 session was the second most liberal in the House behind only Rep. Kris Wallman, another Democrat from Fargo. The average point ranking of Democrats was -31.69. Oversen put up a -52, while Wallman (who attacked Republican legislative candidates for being the wrong gender/race during the 2014 cycle) put up a -53.
Essentially Oversen and Wallman weren’t just off in left field, they were sitting in the left field bleachers.
According to our 2013 rankings, Oversen was the third most left-wing lawmaker in the state House.
Now you could quibble with our rankings and methodologies I suppose, and I’ll admit that Oversen is so lightly experienced with such a short track record that these rankings may be dubious because of the relatively small sample size. Yet they are what they are and as a long time political observer in the state I feel like in the aggregate they generally rank lawmakers about where they ought to be on the left-right scale.
Certainly our rankings provide a more solid foundation for my claim that Oversen is a far-left lawmaker than the Forum has for their assertion that Oversen is a moderate which seems to be little more than wishful thinking. And for what it’s worth, Oversen isn’t well liked by her fellow lawmakers. One Republican state Senator told me that Oversen is “downright mean,” while a Democrat member of the House described her as one of the least effective policymakers he’s ever seen.
But we shouldn’t pretend as though Oversen was selected to be a leader on policy issues. She was selected to be the chair of her party because of identity politics. She’s young and she’s female and Democrats, at a complete loss for any tactic that will produce meaningful election outcomes for them, thought maybe they could appeal to the sort of voters who cast their ballots based on things like age and gender.
The idea that Oversen, who is still in law school and will have to defend her own legislative seat this cycle as well, is going to be making decisions for her party is laughable. She’s the figurehead. A very far-left, ineffective figurehead.