Ryan Taylor To Announce Campaign For Ag Commissioner


Ryan Taylor, a former state Senator from Towner who ran a gubernatorial campaign last cycle, is set to announce a campaign for Commissioner on Agriculture on Friday. Taylor served in the state Senate from 2003 to 2011, and lost his campaign for governor to Jack Dalrymple 34 percent to 63 percent.


The ag commissioner race has already been filled with intrigue. The North Dakota Farm Bureau, an influential group in the state, has backed a Republican primary challenger to incumbent Doug Goehring (who got almost 68 percent of the vote in 2010). Judy Estenson has been making the rounds of NDGOP district conventions working on drumming up delegates for the state convention early next month. I’ve heard mixed reviews from Republicans on her campaign so far (my interview with her here), and Estenson says if she doesn’t win the party’s endorsement at convention she won’t run on the June ballot (Goehring has said he would).

The Farm Bureau-backed challenge to Goerhing prompted the incumbent to come clean on some inappropriate behavior with office staff.

The timing of Taylor’s entrance into the race is interesting. Democrats have been railing against the State Industrial Commisson’s handling of oil development, and the ag commissioner has a seat on the commission. So you’d think Democrats would have put a strong candidate in that race early on, but it wasn’t until after Estenson announced her campaign against Goehring that Taylor decided to jump in.

I wonder if the Farm Bureau’s challenge bloodied the incumbent enough to make Democrats, and Taylor specifically, feel like there’s a chance to unseat him. After all, defeating an incumbent who got nearly 70 percent of the vote last time out is no easy task without an angle.

Frankly, the presence of a strong Democrat challenger on the ballot might make Republicans a lot less likely to throw in with an untested, relatively unknown upstart over an incumbent with electoral success. Especially with a seat on the SIC in play.

I’d be interested in knowing how Taylor is handling the $80,000 grant and fellowship he got from the let-wing Bush Foundation to study Norwegian petro socialism. I can’t imagine that it looks good for a non-profit to have funded someone who then runs for partisan elected office. Taylor has said previously that he’d take a “leave of absence” from the fellowship, but I’m not sure how that works.

Seems to me like he’d need to give some money back.

Update: Back in December, Taylor was saying that 2014 wasn’t the right time for him to run for office:

Former Senate minority leader and 2012 gubernatorial candidate Ryan Taylor said he might run for office in a future election but is counting himself out of the 2014 race.

Taylor, a farmer and columnist from Towner, said he’s committed to his two-year fellowship through the Bush Foundation that he began in May.

“I’m still immensely interested in everything going on politically in North Dakota,” Taylor said. “(But) 2014 isn’t going to be the right time for me political-wise or family-wise.”