We wake up this Saturday morning to news from the Associated Press that North Dakota Democrats, who just launched their statewide convention yesterday, are already wrapping things up.
I guess that’s the sort of thing that happens when you don’t have any incumbent candidates, and a short crop of challengers (including one, Attorney General candidate Kiara Kraus-Parr, who apparently didn’t even bother to show up at the convention).
In fact, it seems a lot of Democrats didn’t show up. Previously Chad Oban, executive director of the party, had said over 750 delegates were signed up to attend. Yesterday, despite four candidates receiving their endorsements including Ag Commissioner candidate Ryan Taylor (who is perhaps the party’s strongest candidate on the statewide ballot) just 344 delegates showed up.
Things weren’t much better this morning, with just 408 delegates seated.
Perhaps the most interesting observation I can make about Democrats and their convention is that they seem to be engaged in crafting an alternate version of North Dakota reality. One in which the state is in miserable condition, overrun by energy interests, and in need of an aggressive government reaction.
Meanwhile, in North Dakota’s actual reality, the state has the fastest growing personal incomes in the nation. Personal incomes have nearly doubled in the last decade alone. Polling from last year indicates that 75 percent of North Dakotans feel the state is heading in the right direction, and 83 percent support oil development in the state. Gallup polling indicates that North Dakota is home to the most contented people in America, a ranking the polling organization also found for the state in 2010. North Dakota has also been ranked the “best run” state in the nation.
As for aggressive government response, consider that from the last biennium to the current one North Dakota state spending increased a whopping 62 percent. Per-capita state spending has increased 171 percent since 2003.
We can debate about whether or not that’s a good thing, but Democrats are calling for an even more aggressive regime of government in North Dakota. Do we want more aggressive?
The reality is that North Dakota has been hit hard by oil impacts, but the state has responded with strong investment in infrastructure, law enforcement and education. And, by multiple measures from multiple sources, North Dakotans are pretty satisfied with how things are going.
Which explains why North Dakota Democrats will have to work so hard to undermine that contentment. What Democrats need is North Dakotans who are scared and upset, which is why their rhetoric is what it is.
Meanwhile, this thoroughly-marginalized political party that hasn’t had a majority in either house of the legislature in two decades and doesn’t hold a single statewide office thought this would be a good thing to debate as a part of their statewide platform:
Delegates discussing proposed resolution supporting a moratorium on the sale of firearms. #NDPol
— Nick Smith (@NSmithReports) March 28, 2014
I’m guessing the resolution didn’t pass, but still. It shows how out of touch this political party is with most North Dakotans.
Update: Republicans say they have over 800 delegates now. Of course, how many they seat at the convention will probably be less. Still, seems likely they’ll surpass the Democrats.