Are North Dakota Democrats Already Worried About Drew Wrigley?


Over the weekend Lloyd Omdahl wrote an odd column taking a shot at Lt. Governor Drew Wrigley. Or, at least, the office Wrigley holds.

According to Omdahl, the Lt. Governor’s position isn’t a very important one. “Why don’t lieutenant governors look out the window in the morning?” he asks. “Because they wouldn’t have anything to do in the afternoon.”

He then goes on a diatribe about how the Lt. Governor should stop presiding over the state Senate. “We have experienced senators who would welcome the opportunity to take the job,” he writes. “The House of Representatives across the hall elects its own presiding officer. Also, the majority on the floor is entitled to the assurance of having a compatible presiding officer.”

Agree or disagree with Omdahl’s position – it’s worth noting that he once served as Lt. Governor – it’s a little odd that he’s bringing it up now. We’re just a little less than a year away from the next legislative session, and the Lt. Governor isn’t on the ballot this year.

So why is Omdahl taking a shot at Wrigley (who, by the way, wrote sort of a rebuttal to Omdahl’s column pointing that he does, in fact, do a lot of stuff)?

I think it has something to do with 2016.

It is a poorly kept secret in North Dakota political circles that Wrigley has aspirations to run for Governor, and there’s no question that he accepted his current position under Governor Jack Dalrymple as a way to get some policy-making and campaigning chops before he makes that leap. It’s hard to know when Wrigley will get an opening – Dalrymple’s public and private moves make it seem likely he’ll run for another term in 2016 – but perhaps Omdahl’s column was intended as a pre-emptive strike against an inevitable Wrigley candidacy.

Or maybe I’m reading too much into it.

Regardless, it’s interesting to me what Omdahl’s column reveals about the mindset of one of the state’s most influential Democrats. It’s not 2014 races, for which Democrats have only one statewide candidate so far even as we approach the middle of February, but rather 2016 races.