Press release below.
I was pretty certain Dalrymple was running again. Republican insiders I’ve spoken to have said they were pretty certain he was running too and told me today that they’re surprised at the announcement. I guess we were all wrong.
Previously I had been told that Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem was likely to jump into the race if Dalrymple didn’t run for another term. Every indication I’m getting from political circles is that he’s in.
Current Lt. Governor Drew Wrigley is also a pretty certain bet to run, though if Stenehjem becomes Governor you have to think that Wrigley would eye the opening in the AG’s office given his background (he was North Dakota’s U.S. Attorney under George W. Bush).
What does this mean for Democrats? It probably means that Senator Heidi Heitkamp is at least more likely to jump into the race. That’s still a tough mountain to climb for any Democrat in North Dakota, up to and including Heitkamp, but a race without an incumbent is an easier race to win.
So why isn’t Dalrymple running? Who knows. He’s been in state government for a long time. He was in the Legislature for 16 years, he spent 10 years as Lt. Governor under Governor-turned-Senator John Hoeven and he’s been Governor in his own right for 5 years.
That’s a long and accomplished political career.
It could also be that the dynamics in North Dakota are shifting. This has been a pretty easy state to govern over the last several years, what with an oil boom filling the sails of a roaring economy and dumping a windfall of tax revenues into state coffers. But with oil prices down, and the state revenue picture looking bleak, governing in the coming years is going to be tougher.
Back in April I wrote a newspaper column asking if Dalrymple could be a good post-oil boom governor. “Can our boom-time governor handle the challenges of the post-boom era?” I asked.
Maybe this is our answer.
Here’s the press release: