I’ve got two friends running for the state Legislature in my Legislative district, one a Democrat, Tracy Potter, and one a Republican, Bob Martinson. This isn’t the first rodeo for either one of them, and I have voted for them both in previous elections, but they weren’t running against each other then. So now what do I do?
Tracy is one of my best longtime friends. We have worked together politically since the 1970s, and shared an office in the State Tourism Department for almost eight years. Lillian and I socialize with Tracy and Laura, and we ask each other’s advice on things we need advice on. While I’ve never shared his desire to hold political office, I have worked on each of his campaigns in some capacity. To think that I would not support him in his effort to go back to the Legislature is out of the question.
I began voting for Bob back in the 1980’s after I was able to get out of my partisan blinders and recognize what an effective Legislator he is, not just for my district, but for Bismarck and all of southwest North Dakota. What’s he done for us lately? Just go to the grand opening of the new $50 million North Dakota Heritage Center in November. Bob did that. And a whole lot more. And he and Jodi are also personal friends of Lillian and me.
Well, it was a no-brainer, deciding who to vote for. The ballot will say “Vote for two names.” I will vote for Bob and Tracy. But that’s not enough, because I want to help get them elected, somehow. Because the Legislature will be a better place if these two, who both started their careers as pretty loyal party partisans but have mellowed as the first number in their ages turned to 3, and then 4, and then 5, and now 6, get elected. Partisanship is not part of their vocabularies any more.
I watched Tracy earn the respect from both Republicans and Democrats as one of the smartest guys on the floor during his two sessions in the state Senate. He’d talk to, and work with, anybody who’d listen, and didn’t care what party they were from. The bills he sponsored contained little hint of his party politics. He’s the guy I want leading the charge on tax reform in North Dakota right now.
Bob frustrates his GOP House-mates from time to time because, even after all these years, he just doesn’t seem to understand you’re supposed to vote the way your party leader says. Or that you’re supposed to vote with your fellow legislators from your own district when they introduce crazy abortion bills. He does understand he represents a fairly conservative district, and he’s sincerely interested in how your (and my) tax dollars get spent. He really doesn’t like to get sidetracked by the social issues some Legislators seem to live for these days.
So, the other day, Tracy brought over one of his yard signs to put in my yard, just like I have in past elections. I thanked him. And then I called an artist friend down at United Printing and had him make me a yard sign of my own, white letters on a purple background, saying “Elect Tracy Potter and Bob Martinson to the House of Representatives.” I taped it over the top of the one Tracy had brought. Bet there isn’t another one like that in town. And I put it out in front of our house.
That was on Tuesday. Wednesday I came out and found the tape all pulled loose and the sign flopping around. There was no wind blowing, so obviously someone had done it. I chuckled. Somebody just wanted to see what was underneath, I guess. There’s a sign the same size just down the block from me with all three Republican Legislators names on it, so I kind of guessed it was some Republican operative looking to see if I had covered up one of their signs. Not sure what they were going to do if it had been one of theirs—report me to Republican headquarters? Then again, maybe it was a Democrat and I’ve been reported to Democrat headquarters. Haven’t heard from them yet.
I’m pretty sure Tracy doesn’t mind. I sure don’t have anything against Tracy’s running mate, Darrell Miller, but I can’t vote for three people. Sorry, Darrell. Bob’s running mates are probably not real happy with him, but as far as I am concerned, the best team for District 35 is Bob Martinson and Tracy Potter, and Bob is taking one for the team here. He’s not going to lose an election by being on a sign with Tracy. He’s going to be my Legislator as long as he wants to be.
Since it went up, I’ve gotten a request from someone else who wanted one. I did have a couple extra made up. I guess I can make some more if anyone wants one. Here’s what they look like.