MINOT, N.D. — During the just-completed legislative session, I heard a common refrain from moderate-minded Republicans who were seeking to justify their votes for some of the more cruel and insipid culture war bills that came before the chamber.
“If I don’t vote for it, I’ll get censured at home,” one lawmaker told me. “They’ll throw me out and replace me with someone crazy.”
And, sure enough, just days after the legislative session ended, the censures began for those courageous enough to stand by their principles in the face of an ugly populist uprising in the party.
Sen. Karen Krebsbach, a Republican from District 40, is something of a legend in Minot. She’s spent her 34 years in office pursuing pragmatic, right-of-center policies that have allowed North Dakota Republicans to enjoy three decades of control in state government. She is among the most consequential lawmakers to serve in Bismarck.
But the District 40 NDGOP committee has censured her. The explanation from district chairman Jay Lundeen, a Minot businessman and belligerent bully who bankrolled an anti-vaxxer rally at the state Capitol in 2021, said it’s because Krebsbach is really a Democrat.