When Ryan Taylor announced that he would be running for Commissioner of Agriculture against Republican incumbent Doug Goehring many political observers, including this one, saw that race as immediately competitive. Taylor had said previously that he wouldn’t be running for anything in 2014, but was drawn into the race after Goehring drew a primary challenger backed by the North Dakota Farm Bureau. Prior to that, it seemed Goehring – who got nearly 70 percent tof the vote in 2010 – would likely cruise to re-election against some creampuff candidate put up as a placeholder by Democrats.
Taylor in the race took the incumbent off cruise control.
But now, less than two months out from election day, it’s hard to say how Taylor has made the race competitive. Certainly he’s a likable fella and he’s been very active in traveling the state, but in terms of serious policy discussion Taylor has been largely silent.
You’d think he could make a splash in what has been a dull election cycle to date, especially given the way Democrats have hyped energy issues, but Taylor’s largely been flying under the radar which isn’t exactly how you unseat an incumbent.
Now, with the post-Labor Day campaign season upon us, Taylor has decided to go to the media with a big policy proposal. And what is it that Taylor thinks is worth his time in the closing weeks of the election cycle?
Student loans. Yes, student loans.
You can see a report about Taylor’s proposal above. I won’t bother to address the merits (other than to say that we should stop trying to solve run-away higher ed costs by “treating the symptom” of finance). What I’m wondering is why in the world a candidate for Agriculture Commission is touting student loan perform?
Sure, the Ag Commissioner sits on the Industrial Commission. And sure, the Industrial Commission has among its duties oversight of the State Bank of North Dakota. But that’s a pretty tenuous thing. Taylor, as Ag Commissioner, would have far more control over student loan policy than the Legislature. I don’t think anyone really expects the Agriculture Commissioner to spend a lot of time on student loans.
Especially not when there are so many other issues pertaining to agriculture and energy, areas more in the wheelhouse for the Commissioner of Agriculture than student loan policy.
Taylor’s big announcement at the beginning of the end of the campaign season makes me wonder if he was ever really that serious a candidate.
From rail delays to the conflicts between agriculture and energy development, there’s a lot of meat on the bone for a candidate in Taylor’s position. When he eschews those issues for something that’s only tenuously connected to the office he’s running for, it makes me think he doesn’t know what he’s doing.