With Statewide Races in Disarray Leader of North Dakota Democratic Party Steps Down

Kylie Oversen, seen her during her time serving in the North Dakota House of Representatives Tom Stromme/Bismarck Tribune

North Dakota Democrats got some tough polling news earlier this week. According to numbers from Mason-Dixon, a well respected national polling organization, they’re currently behind in every single statewide race. Including the hotly contested U.S. Senate race where incumbent Democrat Heidi Heitkamp trails Congressman Kevin Cramer by four points.

Today party chairwoman Kylie Oversen, who also presided over the party during a disastrous 2016 election cycle in which she lost her own seat in the state House, announced her resignation from the position. She’s also the party’s candidate for Tax Commissioner (a race she’s currently losing by 18 points according to the aforementioned polling) and will continue that campaign.

This is the statement sent out by Oversen to party membership:

Statement from Dem-NPL Chair Kylie Michelle Oversen: Dear policy committee members, candidates, and district officers —

I am writing this to ensure that those who were not in attendance at the meeting in Jamestown yesterday hear this news.

At the end of the meeting, I informed the attendees of my decision to step down as Chair of the Democratic-Nonpartisan League. This was an incredibly difficult decision for me to make, as my commitment to this party runs deep and I have worked my butt off for the last three years to try and help put the party in a position of strength. My final decision to step down was only made this last week, and I thought this meeting was the right time to make the announcement. I felt confident in this decision, now, as our party is in a solid position financially and we have created an incredible team of staff across the state. I don’t worry about leaving the party in their hands.

Further, this decision was preempted by many conversations about the state of my race for Tax Commissioner. It is a winnable race, and I believe I can best serve the party right now by focusing my full attention on that campaign and taking back that office. Per the bylaws, Warren will step in as Chair of the party. No one works harder and gives more time to our party, daily, and I know he will continue to give that commitment to you all in this way.

All of this being said — know that I will continue to be a resource to our districts and our candidates, 100%. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions or concerns. My “virtual door” remains open 24/7.

It has been my great honor to serve you all. I am so grateful for the respect and encouragement you’ve given me. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your confidence and your trust.

Now, let’s get to the business of winning elections!

All my best,

Kylie

Political parties do not lightly make leadership changes in the heart of an election year. Particularly one where the stakes are so high. Democrats have held the Senate seat Heitkamp current occupies since the Truman administration. Heitkamp is the only Democrat to have won a statewide election in North Dakota since former Congressman Earl Pomeroy was last re-elected in 2008.

If she loses it will be a dark, dark moment for an already thoroughly marginalized political party.

“Someone got pushed,” a long time political observer told me this morning, responding to Oversen’s news. “Me thinks things are not good with Heitkamp campaign.”

That sounds right to me.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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