Earlier this week I noticed something interesting. While updating my tracking spreadsheet for legislative races in the state, I noticed that not only do North Dakota Democrats have very, very few candidates for the legislature (as of today they’re letting nearly 2/3’s of the 72 legislative races go unchallenged), but they don’t have any candidates in the oil patch.
I don’t mean few candidates. I mean zero. Nada. Aside from three candidates challenging Republican incumbents in District 35, which is downtown Bismarck, Democrats don’t seem to have any legislative candidates further west than Jamestown about an hour’s drive east of Bismarck. Among their statewide candidates, the furthest west they get is Agriculture Commissioner candidate Ryan Taylor.
The rest – including candidates for Tax Commissioner, Attorney General and two seats on the Public Service Commission – are from Grand Forks or Fargo.
That’s pretty ironic, given how often Democrat politicians engage in political hand-wringing over western North Dakota. Democrats want to run on the oil boom and its impact on the state (and what they allege is Republican mishandling of it), but wouldn’t they be more credible if they had a single candidate who actually lives and works in the oil patch?
You almost get the idea that Democrat messaging on oil is more about winning votes in the eastern part of the state than in the west. Which is, you know, where the oil is.
The Dickinson Press picked up my post and asked Democrats about it. At least one Democrat district chair (Mandy Kubik of District 37 in Dickinson) is promising to have some candidates in the race before the looming April 7th deadline, but even if Democrats manage to get a candidate or three in one of the five oil patch districts (1, 31, 33, 37 and 39), doesn’t the fact that they had to drag candidates into those races after their local district conventions speak volumes?
Like maybe the Democrat narrative on the oil boom isn’t getting a lot of traction with North Dakotans, particularly in the oil patch?