North Dakota Teacher/Public Workers Union Endorses Stenehjem Over Burgum


Wayne Stenehjem visits UND law school Friday afternoon . Jesse Trelstad/ Grand Forks Herald

North Dakota United is the combined teacher and public workers union in our state. Their leadership is extremely left wing, and you really have to wonder why they’d bother to endorse a candidate in a Republican primary.

But they have, announcing today that they choose Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem over Fargo businessman Doug Burgum and fringe social conservative candidate Paul Sorum.

Here’s their reasoning:

“What impresses us most is Wayne Stenehjem’s respect for teachers and public employees, as well as his unequivocal support for their great work,” union President Nick Archuleta said. “He fully appreciates the role our members play in shaping the future of our state. Wayne Stenehjem knows the importance of investing in education and in making sure that the people of our state receive the services they need in a professional manner and as efficiently as possible.”

The statement noted that Stenehjem’s wife Beth has worked as a teacher and said the union is pleased that Stenehjem chose state Sen. Nicole Poolman, an English teacher at Bismarck Century High School, as his running mate.

I think this endorsement had less to do with Stenehjem and his running mate than the situation NDU is endorsing in.

A pretty overly left wing organization like North Dakota United endorsing a Republican candidate in a Republican primary is a tacit admission that a) the winner of the Republican primary is the de facto winner of the general election in this deeply Republican state and b) North Dakota United thinks Stenehjem is going to beat Burgum.

I don’t think North Dakota United wants to spend the next four years¬†having to work with a governor they opposed on the ballot. The NDU’s liberal politics aside, it’s hard to work with the guy writing the budgets for your membership when you endorsed his opponent.

Maybe the organization will endorse another candidate in the general election, but I doubt it. They’ll probably stick with Stenehjem, just as they’ve stuck with Republican gubernatorial candidates before him. Because that’s the safe political bet.