That’s the headline over a letter to the editor written by the Democrat leadership in the North Dakota Legislature in which House and Senate Minority Leaders Kenton Onstad and Mac Schneider do their best to spin what was an undeniably ugly election day for North Dakota liberals.
For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, Democrats lost every single statewide race including one in which they recruited their best possible candidate (that would be Ryan Taylor for Agriculture Commissioner) and another in which the Republican incumbent spent a month of the campaign season in rehab for alcohol addiction (that would be Ryan Rauschenberger for Tax Commissioner).
What Democrats are hanging their hats on is a net one-seat pickup in state Senate where Erin Oban (the wife of state party executive director Chad Oban) managed to beat incumbent Republican Margaret Sitte with a campaign that cost more than most of the Democrats’ statewide campaigns.
Democrats also unseated Rep. Bette Grande in Fargo, though that was a wash as Republicans beat Rep. Ed Gruchalla also of Fargo.
That’s not much to brag about, but apparently operating on the assumption that something is better than nothing Onstad and Schneider flog that one modest victory for all it’s worth. And just in case you thought Demcorats cheering the defeat of Republicans was partisan, let them assure you that their motives are more pure than that.
“To be clear, we don’t seek a stronger Dem-NPL Party purely for the sake of partisan gain,” they claim. “Rather, restoring political balance is a means to an important end: Public policy that responds to North Dakota’s challenges and maximizes the unlimited opportunities facing our state.”
Democrats seem to think that’s something North Dakotans want, but voting trends say otherwise. Democrats haven’t had a governor since 1992, a state Senate majority since 1994, or a state House majority since 1983.
When voters have cast you out into the wilderness for more than two decades in the Senate and the governor’s office, and more than three decades in the state House, maybe it’s time to admit that people in North Dakota want to cast their ballots for something more than superficial notions about balance.
Maybe North Dakota voters would rather cast their ballots for ideas. But then, Democrats have to play their policy cards close to their chests in North Dakota, because philosophically Democrats have moved pretty far to the left of the average North Dakota voter.
North Dakota Democrats aren’t mired in long-term marginalization in North Dakota because of notions about “balance.” Their 2014 failures have nothing to do with the national atmosphere. If it did, you’d have expected state-level Democrats to have done better in 2006 and 2008 when, both very good years nationally for the liberals. North Dakota Democrats are on the sidelines, watching in irrelevance as a Republican majority governs, because voters largely reject their policies and philosophies.
Democrats might not want to admit that, but once you cut through all the excuses and whitewash what else is there?