Is SBHE President Going To Withdraw Her Nomination?

Starting over the weekend I’ve been hearing a buzz from certain lawmakers that State Board of Higher Education President Kirsten Diederich, whose appointment to a second term by Governor Jack Dalrymple must be confirmed by the state Senate, might be considering withdrawing her bid.

First, some background.

Diederich had a rough go of it the first time she was nominated by Governor John Hoeven in 2010. During the 2011 session a Senate committee voted 3-1 against confirming, though the overall Senate voted for it after Hoeven’s administration did some arm-twisting behind the scenes.

Now Dalrymple has appointed Diederich to another term, but if anything the road to confirmation of that appointment looks rockier than before. I don’t think I need to list all of the manifest problems in higher education again here, but suffice it to say that lawmakers aren’t happy.

So much so that Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner is saying that his chamber’s integrity is “on the line” with the question of Diederich’s confirmation:

Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner says “the integrity of the Senate is on the line” in upcoming confirmation hearings for State Board of Higher Education President Kirsten Diederich and another board member, after a string of controversies within the North Dakota University System. …

“The integrity of the Senate is on the line as far as I’m concerned, and as long as I’m the leader, I don’t need anybody making fun of the Senate,” he said, adding that Diederich and Melicher “will have an opportunity to be on the record and defend themselves.”

Wow. In addition to Wardner’s comments, lawmakers are preparing themselves for vigorous hearings over her nomination having secured the largest hearing room in the capitol for later this month.

Lawmakers have been making noises about spiking Diederich’s nomination for some time now, but it seems what was a buzz has turned into something of a roar. Which brings me back to the rumor about Diederich withdrawing her nomination.

It’s hard to discern whether or not this rumor has flame underneath all the smoke – some are telling me they haven’t heard anything, others are expressing confidence that she’s going to withdraw – but enough lawmakers are telling me about it that it could be real.

Even if it is a bad rumor, the fact that it’s circulating to such an extent is evidence that there is a lot of opposition to Diederich’s appointment.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Governor Dalrymple chose to have Diederich’s nomination withdrawn rather than go through the embarrassment of seeing it defeated if he feels that would be the outcome.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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