New Democrat Party Chair Verifies Figurehead Status

When Rep. Kylie Oversen was announced as the new chairwoman of the North Dakota Democrat Part I was pretty tough on her. Not so much because I care all that much who Democrats choose as their party leader, but because I hate the idea of people getting special treatment because of things like skin color or gender or age.

I think that’s how Oversen got her job, and I think it’s insulting generally and particularly to women (speaking as a husband, brother, and father).

Given Oversen’s thin resume, there’s no question that she was an identity politics pick for Democrats. They didn’t pick Oversen because they think she’ll organize the party and help develop a winning message for the 2016 election cycle. They picked her because they want to brand themselves as young and female.

Again, nobody is expecting Kylie Oversen to make any grownup decisions for the state party.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]…Democrats haven’t held the Governor’s seat or the state House since the 1980’s, they haven’t held the state Senate since the early 1990’s, and haven’t elected a candidate to a statewide executive branch office since 2008.[/mks_pullquote]

Anyway, last night Oversen was on Chris Berg’s 6:30 Point of View program and was confronted with my comments about her, and she kind of proved my point. When asked to explain her qualifications to be party leader, she instead played the victim card and said Democrats give young people a seat at the table. But nobody is talking about the qualifications of young people to lead generally. We’re talking about Oversen’s qualifications, which don’t seem to be in evidence.

When asked what she could do to help lead Democrats out of the fringes of North Dakota politics, Oversen had no answers. She tried to spin their abysmal performance in the 2014 elections as being part of a national wave against Democrats, but let’s get serious. The sum total of Democrat victories on election day was a net gain of exactly one seat in the state Legislature. They had just one candidate on the statewide ballot get over 40 percent of the vote (Ag Commission candidate Ryan Taylor), and he still lost by double digit percentage points. Maybe a national wave could have caused that if it weren’t for the fact that Democrats haven’t held the Governor’s seat or the state House since the 1980’s, they haven’t held the state Senate since the early 1990’s, and haven’t elected a candidate to a statewide executive branch office since 2008.

The only thing Democrats have going for them, outside of a few left-leaning legislative districts scattered around the state, is Senator Heidi Heitkamp, but she only won her current seat by the thinnest of thin margins.

Democrats seem to think they can overcome all this by positioning themselves for some #waronwomen politics. Color me skeptical.

By the way, Oversen sort of snidely referred to my concern about the leadership of her party, but I honestly don’t think the dominate status Republicans enjoy in the state is a healthy thing. I wish Democrats were more competent and capable of giving Republicans a run for their money, but they aren’t. And Oversen as chairwoman isn’t going to change that. Maybe whoever is really making the decisions over there can.

On a related note, I laughed when Oversen referred to her party as the “Democrat” party. The “Democrat” versus “Democratic” thing always gets under the skin of liberals (I honestly think the former is grammatically correct), and to hear Oversen refer to her party they way conservatives usually do made me laugh.

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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