For North Dakota Democrats, Actions Give Lie To Narratives

The hoopla Democrats have created over that recent John Oliver skit about North Dakota has been amusing to observe.

State Rep. Kylie Oversen, the titular chairwoman of the state party, recently submitted an op/ed to the state’s newspapers taking up Oliver’s demand that North Dakotans “be angry.”

State Senator Tyler Axness, a Democrat from Fargo who got barely a third of the vote when he ran for statewide office last year, says the solution isn’t so much to “be angry” but to elect more Democrats.

We can debate the efficacy of that proposal – it is sort of revealing how blunt Axness is being about the partisan motivations of his gripes – but one thing is certain: It’s going to be hard for North Dakotans to elect more Democrats to consequential state positions when the Democrats can’t seem to find any candidates for those positions.

The chairwoman of a party that wants North Dakotan’s to “be angry” over Republican governorship isn’t even certain that her party will nominate a candidate to run for the most consequential policymaking position in the state.

“Someone has to do it. I don’t know who that someone would be,” state Senator George Sinner, who got just 38 percent of the vote last year when he ran for U.S. House, said recently of Democrat recruitment efforts for the gubernatorial race. Sinner also said that his party may not nominate anyone to challenge Republican U.S. Senator John Hoeven.

“The Democrats may not nominate somebody. That’s a real possibility,” Sinner said.

My Democrat friends tell me they wince every time Sinner is quoted publicly, but it seems he’s not alone in his opinion. Oversen, too, sounded down-in-the-mouth when it comes to candidate recruitment, something James Kerian picked up on in his SAB column today.

Oversen told reporter Mike Nowatzki that she is “fairly confident” her party will endorse a candidate for governor.

That’s right. The chairwoman of a party that wants North Dakotan’s to “be angry” over Republican governorship isn’t even certain that her party will nominate a candidate to run for the most consequential policymaking position in the state.

“I think there was probably some discouragement when so many of our hopefuls said ‘no’ right away. But we’ve continued on the strong path of recruitment that we started with,” Oversen continued.

If Democrats rushing to decline a chance to run for governor is evidence of a “strong path of recruitment” for that party, I’d hate to see what a weak path looks like.

But the larger point here is that the actions of Democrats give lie to their words. They are quick to launch thunderous rhetorical attacks on Republican stewardship of the state during the recent oil boom, but yet few of them want to avail themselves of the opportunity to be elected to replace top Republican officials.

Probably because they know they’re likely to lose. Which tells us something about how North Dakotans view the governance of their state, no?

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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