In Key Legislative Race North Dakota Democrat Erin Oban Avoids Abortion Issue


Erin Oban is the North Dakota Democrat candidate for the state Senate in District 35, running against Republican incumbent Margaret Sitte.

She’s also the wife of Democrat party executive director Chad Oban, which is what makes this ad kind of hilarious. While her husband is out on the campaign trail throwing partisan bombs and accusing Republicans of being extremists (remember when he blamed a reservation death on legislative Republicans?), Oban is trying to position herself as a political moderate.

She says she’s willing to represent Republicans and Democrats, but those words ring hollow given her husband’s vocation.

But more interesting than hypocrisy on partisanship is that Oban’s attack ad (which has to be a first in the history of North Dakota legislative campaigns) hits Sitte on tax and spending issues. Nowhere does the ad mention what Democrats hate Sitte for the most, which is her staunch pro-life stance.

That’s surprising. Nationally Democrats have been waging a war against a supposed Republican “war on women” for two election cycles now. Here in North Dakota, there is a controversial pro-life measure on the statewide ballot (Measure 1) which Democrats are working to defeat.

In the District 35 race specifically, Oban has claimed the support of a handful of Republicans turned of by Sitte’s pro-life views.

Yet, Oban’s ad doesn’t mention the abortion issue at all? In fact, her campaign website doesn’t mention the issue either (Sitte’s website mentions that she is pro-life).

That’s surprising. If Democrats were as confident in their assertions that the pro-life legislation passed during the 2013 session was too extreme, you’d think Oban of all people would want to hit on it in an ad attacking one of the key players behind that legislation.

But instead she lets the issue slide. I guess it doesn’t fit with the “moderate” facade she’s trying to build around herself before election day. Neither does the fact that Erin Oban has also worked as a political operative, running Ryan Taylor’s gubernatorial campaign in 2012.

Hard to run as a middle-of-the-road, bi-partisan candidate when last cycle you were a partisan flak.

It’s telling, I think, how far Democrats feel they have to distance themselves from their own issue stances in order to win elections in this state. Heitkamp did it in 2012, branding herself as an “independent” rather than a Democrat, and managed to barely hold onto a Senate seat for Democrats despite a stiff Republican challenge.

But that might not work in District 35, a strong Republican district for some time now.