North Dakota Democrats Ripped In Newspaper Editorials For Being Irrelevant


TOM STROMME/Tribune Rep. Kenton Onstad (D-Parshall) reports to delegates at the state convention of the Democratic-NPL Party of the obstacles facing legislators in the minority party. Rep. Onstad is standing on the stage with other members of the Democratic-NPL Party in the state house.

The North Dakota Democrats are “embarrassing” says the Grand Forks Herald in an editorial today.

“[T]hey seem to have written off this year’s elections already,” writes Tom Dennis:

It will surprise no one when we say that the Democratic Party in North Dakota is weak. That’s exactly why the party now needs a look in the mirror.

But the party convention over the weekend was the last straw. It was embarrassing: First, the party had gone for months without finding candidates willing to run in many key races. That included the races not only for governor — which had no Democratic candidate at all until mid-March — but also for U.S. senator and U.S. representative, hugely important offices that had no Democratic candidates at all until a day or two before the convention.

Second, the candidates who did surface then did little to inspire confidence that the party had found its way. Chase Iron Eyes has the energy and background to be an interesting House candidate, but when he started his race by deleting his social media presence, he left a poor impression on voters as a candidate who has a great deal to hide.

In a similar vein, the Bismarck Tribune – which has an editorial board not exactly known for taking decisive positions on issues – is a little fed up with the Democrats too:

The top of the Democratic ticket looks overwhelmed, as Nelson and Heckaman are little known and whoever gets the GOP nomination will have an advantage of name recognition and financing. Glassheim indicated he would run his campaign from the kitchen table, not a winning approach, and Iron Eyes has a formidable opponent in Rep. Kevin Cramer. If the Democratic Party doesn’t fill all the other state office races the lack of candidates will weaken the party – there is some strength in numbers.

There are always a lot of excuses made for the Democrats when this subject comes up. People talk about the “Republican good old boys network,” or how Republicans “stacked the deck” to keep themselves in office.

This is nonsense.

The first problem Democrats have is that their national party, and a pretty significant chunk of their in-state party, is simply too far to the left for most North Dakota voters. The Democrats very often build their campaign platforms on the priorities urban progressives care about, and that has little appeal for a state made up mostly of rural, blue-collar workers.

Their second problem is their approach to governing. Even those few Democrats who have managed to win electoral office seem less concerned with governing than with manufacturing political gotcha moments so they can post smug things about them on social media in the hopes they might go viral and get picked up by a MSNBC show or something.

Those aren’t the sort of priorities which are going to win over voters in this state.

Even when Democrats try to engage on a substantive issue they usually fall flat on their faces. Case in point, the state’s budget mess. Falling revenues have created a big budget shortfall. There is plenty of room to criticize Republicans for spendthrift budgeting during the revenue-rich peak of the oil boom years, but instead aiming for that vulnerable spot Democrats demanded that Governor Jack Dalrymple call a special session of the Legislature…to restore spending he cut to help the state make ends meet.

It’s like the Democrats are intent on reminding voters concerned about Republican spending that they would probably have spent even more.

Again, not something which will help them find a path out of the political wilderness.