JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — A Couple Of Reasons Why I Like Politics


Wednesday, I wrote a long story about lieutenant governors, mostly, and in it, I poked some fun at my friend, Jim Poolman. If you missed it, click here.

But here’s another addition to the story, and it demonstrates why I like Jim Poolman. He has a sense of humor and a thick skin. Last night, I was sitting in my recliner watching TV when my phone told me I had a text message. I looked, and it was from Jim Poolman. It said “Just an FYI, daughter Grace got a new dress today. It was purchased at Kohl’s in Bismarck. On sale. She will be wearing it to the convention! She won’t be running for Lt. Gov.!”

Well, Grace, I wish your mom well at the convention. I hope you get to wear that new dress up there on the stage.


I also wrote Wednesday about the three candidates for the Republican nomination for governor, Wayne Stenehjem, Doug Burgum and Rick Becker. Here’s an addendum to that part.

One of the great things about living to be old is that you get to bump into people you used to know long ago and renew old friendships. That happened to me a couple of weeks ago at the Republican debate at the Belle Mehus in Bismarck.

After the debate was over, as people were making their way out, an elderly (he’s gonna hate me for saying that) ― balding ― that too ― fellow came over to me and said, “Are you Jim Fuglie?” The first thing I thought was “Oh, shit, I’m one of the only Democrats in a room full of Republicans. This is probably not going to be pleasant.”

I said I was, and he stuck out his hand and said, “I’m Gary Becker.” I studied him, remembering him from years ago as a tall handsome fellow with a full head of dark hair (as he probably remembered me as a skinny young guy without white hair and beard). As I shook his hand, I said, “I remember you. We used to play golf together in Mandan.”

Gary replied, “I told my wife when I saw you ‘I think that’s Jim Fuglie. I’m going to go over and ask him.’”

Sure enough, it was one of my old golfing, beer-drinking buddies from the 1970s at the old Mandan Municipal Golf Course. He was a year or two older than me (still is), but he played a pretty good game of golf, and we had a lot of good afternoons and evenings together. His wife, Judy, was with him, and I asked if they still lived in that house up on Sunset Drive in Mandan, and Gary said, “Yep, been there 48 years now.”

Well, you know how things go. I ended up moving across the river to Bismarck, started playing golf at Riverwood instead of in Mandan, I made new golf friends, and our paths just never crossed in all these years. About 40. Until two weeks ago.

I remember that once in a while, Gary would have a couple of young boys, about grade-school age, tagging along with him at the golf course. One of them was named Rick. I didn’t put all that together ― Becker’s a pretty common name around here ― until Gary said, at the end of our conversation, pointing at the stage and beaming with pride, “That’s my son up there.”

Sure enough, one of those little shavers is all grown up and running for governor of North Dakota.

“Well,” I said, “you must be very proud of him.” He nodded and smiled, and we parted company.

What a great encounter. Politics is good for something, I guess.

As I said Wednesday, this is probably not Rick Becker’s year. But you hang in there, Gary. I think we’ll hear more from him in the future.

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