Of Conventions and Things

Political parties exist for one primary purpose: to nominate candidates, generally of a like mind, for political office. Everything else political parties do is secondary to that.

To be sure, there are other important secondary functions: to provide a platform on which those candidates base their campaigns, to provide a supporting organization, and to provide money, or a means to raise it, for those campaigns.

But first and foremost, they endorse candidates and get them on the ballot. By that measure, the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party failed in its primary purpose at its convention this weekend. There are nine contested offices on the North Dakota ballot this year. Democrats nominated candidates for four. Democrats failed to nominate candidates for a majority of them. I am pretty sure that is unprecedented, even in the days prior to 1956 when the Nonpartisan League filed its candidates in the Republican column, and the election was decided in the September Primary Election.

In the 44 years I’ve been attending Democratic-NPL Party State Conventions, there have only been a couple of times that I can recall hearing those dreaded words from the floor of the convention: “Mr. Chairman, I move that the executive committee be empowered to endorse a candidate for the office of . . .” I heard it four times this weekend, and out of embarrassment, the party didn’t even fuss with providing a traditional letter of support for a candidate for the nonpartisan office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Dr. Wayne Sanstead, who held that office as a member of our party for 28 years, left the convention shaking his head.

A lot of us old timers left the convention shaking our heads. What’s happened to the party we’ve been part of, a party we’ve led, in various roles, for much of our lives? We’ve not won every election, but after the merger of the Democrats and the NPL, between 1960 and 1992 we held the governor’s office for 28 of those 32 years. When Wayne Stenehjem completes his first term in that office at the end of 2020, the Republicans will have even bettered our 28 years. Their 28 will be all in a row.

The four candidates we did manage to nominate will do just fine. They won’t embarrass our party. The two legislators who stepped up to run for Governor and Lieutenant Governor, Marvin Nelson and Joan Heckaman, are smart, well-spoken and sincere in their efforts to uphold the honor of our party. I’ve only gotten to know Marvin lately, but Joan and her husband Dewey have been friends of mine, and I cautioned her a couple of weeks ago about running. She wrote to me “We know we will be outspent, but we want to move issues forward that may help other candidates and set the stage for future years. I am very concerned about the party. That is why I am willing to run.” Good words from a good person.

Chase Iron eyes is an up-from-the-bottom story unlike any candidate ever to run for high office in North Dakota. I’m going to have him help me tell the whole story one of these days. Eliot Glassheim ‘s brilliant mind lives in a shell of  body devastated by cancer for the last two years, which means we won’t see him much out on the campaign trail, but we’ll certainly hear from him. He might just be the smartest person ever to run for the U.S. Senate in North Dakota, and certainly the funniest. And funnest.

Then there are the offices of Auditor, Treasurer, Insurance Commissioner, Public Service Commissioner and Superintendent of Public Instruction. The Convention failed to nominate anyone for those offices.

Only one Democrat, Arthur W. Porter in 1892, has been elected state auditor. He served two years. I don’t know why North Dakotans don’t trust Democrats to audit their books, but it just never happens. So we’re not giving up much in that race. Still, it could happen in 2016. Because for the first time since 1972, there won’t be a man named Robert Peterson on the ballot. It’s an open seat, and an unknown bureaucrat was endorsed today in Fargo by the Republicans. Sigh.

We’ve won the other four offices many times, though, and could win them this year. Republican incumbent Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm is leaving his job, making that an open seat. Kirsten Baesler in the education office has her own personal trials to deal with. Treasurer Kelly Schmidt and PSC member Julie Fedorchak are a bit tougher, although Schmidt is probably the most incompetent person ever to hold that office. Expect Fedorchak’s next six years to serve as her grooming ground for higher office. She’s ambitious and is likely the next rising star in the Republican Party.

So we just give those four a free ride? Well, this is the next test of leadership in the Party. Will someone step up and take charge? Because the Party’s chairman, executive committee and staff have abdicated. The next step is up to the party’s Legislative Leaders, Sen. Mac Schneider and Kenton Onstad.

There are 12 Democratic-NPL Legislators who are not running for office this year because they are in the middle of four year terms, in addition to the two who are running for Governor and Lieutenant Governor. By comparison, there are 56 Republican Legislators who are holdovers this year. That’s how far our party has sunk. 56-14. In the 2014 election, there were 70 legislative seats up for election. Republicans won 56. Democrats won 14. So it is hard to lay all the blame on the current leadership of the party. The ship was sinking when they got on. The 2014 election was the worst for our party since the blowout of 1966. Last election, we didn’t even field candidates in 16 Legislative races, also an unprecedented number, so there was the beginning of the current trend. In fact, I have to give the youngsters who took on the challenge of running the party this year credit for even jumping in. But they’re obviously over their heads. And that’s why our Legislative leaders have to step up. Here’s what they have to do.

The filing deadline to get candidates endorsed for statewide office is a week from Monday, April 11. So this week, Onstad and Schneider need to get those 12 holdover legislators in a room, lock the door, and say “Okay, nobody leaves this room until five of you volunteer to run for statewide office. Let’s not take all day with this. Who’s first?”

The 12 are:

Sen. Richard Marcellais, Belcourt

Sen. Tim Mathern, Fargo

Sen. Carolyn Nelson, Fargo

Sen. Erin Oban, Bismarck

Rep. Tracy Boe, Mylo

Rep. Ron Guggisberg, Fargo

Rep. Kris Wallman, Fargo

Rep. Kathy Hogan, Fargo

Rep. Mary Schneider, Fargo

Rep. Alisa Mitskog, Wahpeton

Rep. Pamela Anderson, Fargo

Rep. Lois Delmore, Grand Forks

Pam Anderson is a retired banker. She’s surely qualified to be State Auditor or Treasurer. Kathy Hogan, Fargo’s longtime Social Services Director, can take the one Pam doesn’t want. Ron Guggisberg is a fireman—perfect for Insurance Commissioner. If he doesn’t want it, Mitskog, a chiropractor, surely fits the bill. Mary Schneider is a lawyer. We could use one of those on the PSC. Carolyn Nelson, Erin Oban and Lois Delmore have teaching degrees, and Kris Wallman is a former Fargo School Board member, just like Kirsten Baesler was before she became State Superintendent. Just pick one of those four.

There, Mac and Kenton. There’s a ticket. Don’t let the party down.

Aside: Notice a trend in that list? 9 of the 12 are from the Red River Valley. Of the 14 Democrats elected to the Legislature in 2014, only five were from outside the Red River Valley. All of North Dakota west of I-29 elected only five Democratic-NPL Legislators in 2014, and three of those were from the Turtle Mountain Reservation district, District 9. Other than District 9, the only two Democrats elected from west of the Red River Valley were Joan Heckaman from New Rockford and Erin Oban from Bismarck. That is very, very scary. It is very nearly the end of our party west of Fargo. I talked with the Dem-NPL caucus co-chair, young Ben Hanson, at the convention, and he told me that in spite of rumors, Legislative candidate recruiting is going pretty well this year. He thinks there’s a chance there’ll be candidates in every district, with most district tickets full. A marked increase from last election, when there were 16 vacancies on our Legislative ticket. He and a couple of his House and Senate colleagues will be hard at work this week. I have some confidence in them. We’ll see.

Here are some random Convention notes. The Party was good enough to give me media credentials to get in the door, so I figure I better write something about the Convention.

A STRATEGIC ERROR

When the Convention convened Friday morning, the Credentials Committee reported 252 registered delegates. That’s the fewest in my 44 years of conventions. Here’s why. Convention planners (the same leaders responsible for most of our party’s ills) scheduled the convention for a Friday and a Saturday, instead of a Saturday and Sunday That’s stupid. Teachers and working people make up a good core of our party’s faithful who attend meetings and conventions and work the phone banks and knock on doors. They work on Fridays, so we’ve always had our convention on the weekend, so working people could attend. Especially this year, with enthusiasm for our party on a statewide level at an all-time low, we made a big mistake by shutting them out for half the convention. A couple hundred more showed up Saturday, when there really wasn’t much on the agenda. Most came to see friends. But a lot more didn’t come at all, because they didn’t want to pay a full registration fee for a half-day of activity. They’d rather give that money to their local legislative candidates. With more than 1600 Republicans gathered down the road in Fargo, Democrats at their best managed only a fourth of that. Another sign of weakness. Another embarrassment.

EQUALITY VS. CHIVALRY

Saturday morning was Woman’s Day at the convention. Senators Heidi Heitkamp and Kirsten Gillibrand gave rousing speeches. Convention Chair Kylie Overson pointed out that we have at least one woman on every legislative ticket in the state so far. A House of Representatives member herself, she trotted out all the female legislators and candidates onstage. It was a great moment, and it is obvious that women have come far in our party. There is equality in our party, and we should be very proud of that. We were. Until we went to the luncheon upstairs sponsored by the state party. We were seated at tables of 8. At my table there were six men and two women. A server came toward us with two plates. She squeezed between the chairs occupied by the men and set the two plates down in front of the two women, and then left to get plates for us men. I feigned indignation over that, which made my friend Laura Anhalt, sitting at my table, laugh. WTF? Equality AND Chivalry are alive and well in our party, I guess.

THE MISSING PRESIDENT

Heidi gave a darn good speech, I thought. She went on a tear about the accomplishments of our Democratic Presidents. Franklin Roosevelt brought us the New Deal. Lyndon Johnson brought the Great Society. Jimmy Carter fought for farmers. Bill Clinton balanced the budget. We all cheered each one. And then she stopped. No mention of Barack Obama bringing health care to millions of Americans and leading us out of recession. That made me sad.  In fact, Obama’s name wasn’t mentioned once from the convention podium all day Friday and most of the day Saturday, until Earl Pomeroy’s return appearance and speech to the convention late Saturday afternoon. Thank you Earl.  He gave a fiery speech, like the Earl of old, noting that he was glad to be there because the Democratic-NPL convention had endorsed him for office 12 times (he pointed out he won 11 of those races.) He was the only one to mention the man who might just be one of our greatest Presidents ever. That made me sad.

MOSTLY MISSING

Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad weren’t there. Previous commitments. Grace Link, at 97, sat in the front row with her son and grandson and was recognized twice, as was Bruce Hagen, who became the Democratic-NPL’s first (and only) Public Service Commissioner in 1961. I mentioned Sanstead, who served as Art Link’s lieutenant governor for 8 years, earlier. George Sinner, now nearing 90, is frail and wasn’t up to making the trip. He was my boss for eight years, and I sat in the back of the hall and thought about the joyous conventions during his years: the year we had four candidates traveling the state vying for the right to run against an incumbent Republican Governor (a race he won); the two years we had a majority of the House of Representatives; the eight years we had a majority in the State Senate; and those years in the 1980s and 1990s when we controlled almost every office in the State Capitol. I don’t think he would have liked this convention much.

EYES OF IRON

Chase Iron Eyes is the first Native American to be endorsed for Congress by either major political party in North Dakota. If he wins he will join just two other Native Americans in the U.S. House of Representatives, both Republicans. In our country’s history, just 14 Native Americans have served in the U.S. House.  He gave a great speech, his story is a good one, and he is a skilled organizer. Kevin Cramer is not a shoo-in for re-election with Iron Eyes as an opponent. His presence on the ticket will be an asset to the rest of the ticket (such as it is), because he will turn out huge numbers of traditional Democrat votes on the state’s four reservations. I think Heidi kind of wishes she was on the ticket this year, because, while she ran a great campaign four years ago, the reservation vote was critical to her 53-47 percent victory. I expect she’ll be trying hard to get him elected so he’s on the ticket when she runs in 2018. Chase has built an impressive following as the founder of the Lakota People’s Law Project and Last Real Indians, an organization which describes itself as “a media movement grounded in our pre-contact ways of life. We are independent media with direction. We are an adaptation of our story-tellers. We are content creators of many origins with a vision of returning Indigenous peoples of all “races” to a state of respect for generations unborn. We are a confluence of the waters of many peoples flowing quiet and mighty. We are taking our place, telling the world. Creating the New Indigenous Millennium.” Those are Chase’s words. “A  confluence of the waters of many peoples flowing quiet and mighty.” Wow. I think his campaign will impress you.

DR. ELIOT

Eliot Glassheim is running for the U.S. Senate. That makes me happy too.
Eliot Glassheim is running for the U.S. Senate. That makes me happy too.

Eliot Glassheim’s presence on the ticket—and his Skype appearance at the convention after he was drafted by his District 18 Legislative colleague Sen. Connie Triplett—lent a true moment of inspiration to an otherwise dreary convention. Glassheim was diagnosed with cancer last year, and was pretty much given a death sentence. He subsequently announced his retirement from the Legislature after 26 years of service, ending a life of public service that also included about 20 years on the Grand Forks City Commission. The city of Grand Forks held what was basically a wake for him last year and showered him with praise and honors. And then he began an experimental chemo-therapy program and, miracle of miracles, it worked. He was declared cancer-free last week. Tall, lanky, skinny (and even skinnier now), sardonic and very, very bright, he would be the first PhD to win a U.S. Senate seat from North Dakota if he should beat John Hoeven. Oh, and I said earlier Eliot was funny. Here’s one of my favorite Eliot Glassheim quotes. Eliot was asked to comment on the retirement of Rep. Ken Svdejan, a conservative Grand Forks legislator with whom Eliot served on the House appropriations committee. Eliot searched hard for something nice to say, and finally came up with this:  “I thought he (Ken Svdejan) was more fiscally cautious than he needed to be (and) unreasonably afraid of disasters that might occur in the future. I think North Dakota would be better off if he had voted with me at least 10 percent more frequently.”

ONE ON ONE

Finally, a wish for something I’d love to see. Jim Poolman, husband of Republican Lt. Governor candidate Nicole Poolman (I picked her out of a crowd earlier this year—you can read about her here if you want) and Duane Heckaman, husband of Democratic-NPL candidate for the same office, Joan Heckaman, are the two tallest spouses of competing Lieutenant Governor candidates ever. Poolman’s about 6-3. He’s 45, so he’s probably quit growing.  Heckaman was 6-8 when he played basketball for Dickinson State in the 1960s. He may have lost an inch as he passed 70. I want to see them go one-on-one at the Y and just settle this Lieutenant Governor thing right now. Heckaman’s got a few inches on Poolman, but Poolman’s 25 years younger than Heckaman (although I’ve seen Dewey shooting around at the Y during Legislative Sessions and he moves pretty well for a senior citizen). They’re both in pretty good shape.  So I think it’s a pretty even match. I bet we could sell tickets for that, and the campaigns could split the proceeds.

BURGUM AND WAYNE

I’ll conclude with a note about Republicans. Doug Burgum has been a sort of friend of mine for a number of years. I think he has real leadership qualities, and I was happy to see him get involved in politics. I remember that he joked once that he purposely kept his hair long to keep the Republicans away from his door. But I’m not impressed with his political skills. I told him early this year I thought if he could get 25 per cent of the convention delegates, he could set the stage for a good Primary race. That didn’t happen. In spite of spending a lot of money, and running a pretty good by-the-book ground game before the convention, his message didn’t take. He made a miserable showing at the Republican convention this weekend. Changing his name from Doug Burgum to Conservative Doug Burgum didn’t fool most people. And his promise not to take a salary didn’t work in a state like North Dakota, which doesn’t have a lot of people who could do that.  Or would see much sense in it. It sounded too much like trying to buy the election. Now he’s got to decide tomorrow whether to run in the Republican Primary against Wayne two months from now or to take out petitions and run as an independent in November. I said it earlier, and I’ll say it again: If he runs in the Primary, he’s going to have a very short political career. If he runs as an independent in November, he will create the most interesting race for Governor this state has ever seen. And he might just be Governor. Which he says he wants to be. By the way, you’ll notice a few sentences back I said Doug would be running against Wayne in the Primary, not using Wayne’s last name. There’s a reason for that. I told Wayne last week that after years of trying to type our current Governor’s last name and getting it wrong about half the time, I’ve been looking forward to him going away, and to having a governor whose last name I can spell. And then along comes Wayne with his goofy Norwegian last name which sounds like Sten-jum but isn’t spelled that way. So I’m dropping it. From now on its just Wayne. I’m retired. This is a blog. I shouldn’t have to work so hard at it. I’d rather be fishing than sitting at my computer trying to type a name I can’t spell.

Note: I had an error in the section of this post regarding the number of Democratic-NPL Legislators elected in 2014. I have fixed the numbers. They are correct now. That’s the beauty of a blog. In my old newspaper days, I’d have just had to live with the wrong numbers.

13 thoughts on “Of Conventions and Things

  1. Well said, Jim Fuglie! I like your idea of locking the Democrats in a room until they fill the ticket!! No reason why Erin Oban can’t beat Baesler after the great campaign she ran last election cycle!

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  2. Everything you type is well-written, Jim, and good writing is a pleasure for me to read, even when I disagree with its content. For my part, although we share a newspaper journalism past, my authorship is far more pedestrian than yours. But after reading your report, analysis and opinion about the concluded Dem-NPL Convention in Bismarck, I am obliged to comment. After serving as Best Man at a wedding of a dear friend and lawyer colleague in Florida Thursday evening, I probably could have hustled to get to Bismarck for the final day and a half of the convention, and then flown straight to New York City for commitments there. I intentionally did not do so, however, and thus I missed my first Dem-NPL Convention since 1980. You and I were both part of the vibrant and exiting 1984 Dem-NPL campaign which led to a broad resurgence for the party. George “Bud” Sinner began a two-year run as Governor, with the Dem-NPL almost accomplishing a clean sweep of North Dakota’s statewide offices that year. Then came 1992. After the Party nominated a wonderful candidate in Senator Bill Heigaard at its Convention that year, a spoiled, arrogant, acerbic, and tone deaf Attorney General Nick Spaeth (and name identification from his eight years of media coverage as AG) beat Heigaard in the Dem-NPL Primary Election. Spaeth, a virtual non-campaigner, and his non-winning personality, lost badly in the general election to Republican Eddie Schaefer — who at that time was quite beatable, as he struggled to put his fish farm and other debacles behind him. Yes, the Dem-NPL held the Senate in 1993, but it has been all down hill since then. You directly blame the current Party Chair and staff for the current sad state of affairs, even as you acknowledge a long-term, downhill slide which preceded their tenure. For the past decade or so, our party has been buffeted by 365-day-a-year hatefull hostility from a daily newspaper and electronic media monopoly (Forum Communications) which employs a full-time Republican hit man (Rob Port). Right-wing, reactionary animus spews all-day, every day from the (illiterate) Bismarck Tribune, and the Minot Daily News. For ten years or more, these organs have meted out “death by a thousand cuts” to the Dem-NPL, it’s candidates, and its platforms. Forum Communications Publisher Emeritus Bill Marcil wields political office candidate endorsement control from his golf cart in Scottsdale, telling confidants that his greatest career achievement was wiping out North Dakota’s Democratic Congressional Delegation in 2010. North Dakotans still read daily newspapers — at least most of those over the age of 40 do — and for the last several years, I have spoken with former Senator Kent Conran and others about the need for moderate — not Dem-NPL but moderate investors to acquire one of North Dakota’s daily newspapers. Right now, there is no “beach head” from which investigative news stories could launch onto the Associate Press wire. So when good Dem-NPL candidates raise legitimate issues, they would become part of the ongoing state news agenda. Now, for the most part, Forum Communications simply ignores them, or puts a Republican cast on them. Buying a daily newspaper — even today — is very expensive, and it would take a lot of money. I don’t know how much left over campaign contribution money remains in the coffers of Earl Pomeroy, Kent Conrad and Baron Dorgan, but I’ll bet it’s a lot. I think that they should make that money available for the benefit of the Dem-NPL Party. For another time: Does the Dem-NPL have the guts to pursue a partisan political gerrymandering lawsuit after House Minority Leader AL Carlson crowed after the 2010 re-distriction.

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    1. Yep, you’re right, David. If I had to lay the woes of the Democratic-NPL Party at the feet of one man, it would be Nick Spaeth. I didn’t want to speak ill of the dead, but since you brought it up . . .

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      1. Then don’t Jim!
        That was a long time ago and he is not here so don’t please. A lot of people were not born, children, or baby-sat for his kids then. And the baby-sitter isn’t a spring chicken.

        As someone who covered the dems in ND for many years and also knows many, I can tell you some reasons why and they have nothing to do with ancient history. And that is ancient.

        I have seen many dem candidates who did not understand they had to go knock doors. Simple stuff. Hard workers win legislative races.

        I have also heard from Dems who said running was like being on the outside of a very small club. Depressing. They felt unwanted.

        There is a lack of bottom up work. People should be groomed at a local level before going state-wide. There needs to be less whining and more strategizing.

        Shame on the party this year. That is an embarrassment.

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  3. Very descriptive of the current state of the Democratic Party in North Dakota. The facts are there for all to see the solutions to solve any of the problems is lacking.
    Years ago when I was a high school coach I learned very early you have to develope a game plan suited to your players. Maybe the game plan needs to be looked at!

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  4. Dakota — you make good points about district-level spade work by candidates for legislative assembly office. While still in my senior year of journalism school at the University of Maine in 1974, I worked part-time for the Bangor Daily News, and covered a local state senate race in Bangor, Maine. This was during, and immediately after, the end-stage of the Watergate scandal, and Nixon’s August 1974 resignation in disgrace. Republicans were extremely unpopular at the time. I did a feature on a Republican State Senate candidate from New York City named Howard Trotzky was running against am incumbent Democrat member of the Maine House, who was the son of the Democratic chairman for the city. Privately, I gave Trotsky zero chance of winning, and I placed little significance upon his statement that he would knock on every single door in that senate district.Well, Trotzky literally did that — and he won the election. Everyone was shocked, and it was a major object lesson for me ever after.

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  5. Great piece. I was at the convention and say you but did not get a chance to talk to you.

    I am going to attach a piece that I wrote and along with that check the Grand Forks Herald archives for a piece written by Mike Jacobs on the same subject. It is my hope to encourage people to not only look at what has happened and still happening but to come up with new ideas as to finding a better way.

    Feb. 16, 2016
    Yes, the Democrats are dead. Will they be reborn anytime soon? Their self imposed demise began when an elite power structure took control with a belief that they know better than ordinary folks. The result is the death that is so obvious today. The elite decided to become Republican Lite.
    What do the Democrats stand for? Nobody really knows. The Republicans have successfully portrayed the Democrats as Liberals, socialists, big government and big taxes. They want to expand government and raise taxes. Oops! That is exactly what the last 25 years of Republican rule has accomplished.
    The current Democratic elite are really believers in a Regulatory Democracy. They believe that what we need is more regulation to control our lives. Just like most Republicans. The difference is that the Republicans have done a better job of portraying themselves as Conservatives while they performed just like Regulatory Democrats. To give credit where credit is due, the Republicans are far more effective at cronyism as we all can see.
    North Dakota needs a 2 party system. In order to get that, a new crop of Democrats need to stand up. The real party of Jefferson is needed. Smaller government, more local power, lower taxes, better local education, economic policies that will reduce poverty through good paying jobs. These are principles long forgotten by the modern Democratic Party but reflect the beliefs of a lot of North Dakotans.
    I urge all who care about our state to stand up and demonstrate your American values and attend the upcoming political conventions. If we don’t, the country will continue its movement toward government of, by and for the Elite.
    We have complained enough. If you believe that the government belongs to “We the People”, it is imperative that we all do our part.

    Tom Asbridge

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  6. More in response to Dakota Huseby’s comment relative to my discussion above with respect to the late Nick Spaeth’s singular substantial role in pushing the Dem-NPL Party onto the downhill slide which has only accelerated over the past decade. Firstly, Dakota, I myself knew Nick Spaeth well, and I was there at the small private home gathering in South Fargo before the 1984 Dem-NPL Convention on the night that the late John Kelly brought Nick Spaeth in to the house and introduced him as the guy who would be running for Attorney General against then-incumbant GOP Attorney General Bob Wefald, who at the time looked to be so unbeatable that the Dem-NPL Party was having great difficulty in recruiting anyone to run for AG. Spaeth, who had an Yale Law School pedigree and had served as a law clerk to the late United States Supreme Court Justice Byron White. Sadly, Nick was a legal snob, who looked down his nose at those of us who were graduates of the University of North Dakota School of Law — itself a fine law school. As Jim Fuglie correctly stated above, Nick Spaeth was responsible, more than any other single person, for pushing the Dem-NPL Party onto its downhill slide. The unfortunate fact that Nick died any early death does not immunize him from legitimate criticism in my eyes. If we are going to plot a course for the party’s rebirth, it is essential that we know our recent history and to analyze how we as a party got to this point.

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  7. First, I would like to comment of Dave Thompson’s observations. Spaeth had a lot of help. It is not a coincidence that 1984 was the founding year of the DLC. It has had more to do with the demise of the party that any other single item.

    One of the outcomes has been that Democrats have allowed themselves to be portrayed as just bad and un-American. We have completely lost that war. It has been suggested that the Party needs to rebrand itself. We need more than that. We need to demonstrate just what we do stand for. If any are confused, I would suggest some serious introspection.

    I wrote the Dead Democrats piece before I decided to run for the Legislature as a House Candidate from District 30. I have not seen any evidence that what I said was wrong.

    As Jim pointed out, it was a really small convention. However a few bright spots are appearing. Several young folks, mostly from the RR Valley seem to be less affected by the past and see promise in the future. A great place to build from.

    As the Republicans move further and further into nutty land, it provides opportunity to be the voice of reason. It is not yet clear whether or not that voice has begun to be formed.

    If you step back from conventional thinking, I would suggest the Marvin Nelson and Chase Iron Eyes represent two candidates that have an abundance of obvious integrity. That is a great place to begin. Win or lose, a new standard can be set. This is in no way a criticism of any previous Dems. On the contrary, it is the call for new ideas and a new party. That is what it will take to take the long road back to better government and that should be the goal.

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  8. I am honestly deeply disturbed that any person would blame one man from the 80’s for the party’s demise.
    Especially a man who obviously had intense emotional struggles. No. Just no. Knock it off. That’s pathetic. I sincerely mean that.
    I don’t remember Nick well at all, just going to his house on river road to babysit. I know he has surviving children who don’t need the constant bitching about ancient history.

    So, being an 80’s child in those days.. I went on to be a reporter, then a talk host, then a political communications director for Al Gore’s non profit.
    I suspect I may have an inkling:

    I interviewed many, many running dems who had no idea what they were talking about and no idea how to campaign. Corey Mock and Kristin Hedger were a huge exception. Those are future stars if someone wanted..

    Plus, if the new candidates lose- they’re gone and the party loves to lose and then run around trying to figure out something else rather than groom these people correctly!

    Listen, I literally love the Schneiders, they’re my godparents…. but the party can’t be one family!! And the rest of you all have ditched, or walk around oblivious to what’s happening and remain stuck in the past.

    For god sakes, you’re talking about buying a newspaper as a solution?
    Newspapers are all but dead.

    I’ve talked to your candidates, I’ve seen the winners, the losers, and those that could win if you all devoted time to ground up work, training, support, etc…
    Instead the party put a child in charge, an actual potential for the future of the party- and dumped her in a position there is no way she had a chance at.

    Dems in ND need a come to Jesus meeting.

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  9. Some great posts here, Jim, but we need much more of a presence in the state advocating the non G.O.P. view, keep pounding away and also elicit some other progressive folks that are not scared to death of the Republicans.

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  10. Jim, Here is one guy who stepped up. I am running for ND Treasurer. Yes, been there done that– but doing it again for the good of democracy! And Dakota, Kisten Hedger is campaign treas, send contributions to Mathern for Treasuer, Box 411, Fargo ND 58107.

    Thanks all for being in the arena.

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