JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — And Then The Conventions Were Over …

Humorist Will Rogers once said, “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.” North Dakota Republicans left Fargo mumbling something like that Sunday morning, changing the last word, after the fiasco that was their purported state convention.

Democrats, meanwhile, trickled out of town knowing they had at least three credible candidates at the top of their ticket as they prepare for the November 2024 election. At the top, Trygve Hammer, an Iraq war veteran, helicopter pilot, former science teacher and blue-collar working man’s idol, with perhaps the best ballot name ever in North Dakota, for Congress. Engineer and college professor with already one credible U.S. Senate race under her belt, Katrina Christiansen, seeking that office again. And state Senato. Merrill Piepkorn, a singing cowboy and broadcaster from Fargo, who prefers sport coats and bolo ties to three-piece suits, and who grew up out west in Stanley, in the heart of the oil patch, and knows something about Fargo file clerks and Mountrail County farmers and roughnecks, for governor.

Those three head up the Democrats’ ticket in November. God only knows who will be at the top of the Republican ticket. Oh, Kevin Cramer will be there, seeking re-election to the U.S. Senate. But squabbles all over the floor of the Republican convention Saturday left the place looking like a wrecking ball had hit it. A couple of 12-year veterans in office, Julie Fedorchak and Kirsten Baesler, were rejected by the convention in favor of offerings from the crazy wing of the party, including Jim Bartlett, a man who led the state’s Home School Association and wants to put the Ten Commandments back in the classroom, getting the party’s support to head up our Department of Public Instruction. Read that again. PUBLIC Instruction.

And poor Julie Fedorchak, youngest daughter of former North Dakota Highway Commissioner Duane Liffrig, who after holding elective office for a dozen years, threw her hands in the air and wandered off the convention floor after a tasteless show by the craziest of the crazies hanging out in Fargo on Saturday, Rick Becker, kept her from getting the party’s endorsement to run for Congress. Instead, the nod went to someone no one has ever heard of before this past week, a fellow named Alex Balazs, who describes himself as a retired veteran and retired farmer. Now there’s a bad ballot name. And not just Balazs. No one with an “x” in their name has ever been elected senator, congressman or governor in state history.

Rick Becker’s ad from his website, offering gift certificates at Victoria’s Secret to his patients after their surgery necessitates their need for … well, you know..
Rick Becker’s ad from his website, offering gift certificates at Victoria’s Secret to his patients after their surgery necessitates their need for … well, you know..

For a while it looked like Becker, the wavy-haired, 1950s-matinee idol-looking boob doctor and ever-present gadfly, was going to be the prettiest candidate in the primary election in June (although Fedorchak’s no slouch), but then rumors started circulating that former Miss America Cara Mund may be reappearing on the political scene, also seeking the Republican nod for Congress in the primary. Boy, is that race going to be fun to watch. Three pretty candidates and Alex Balazs.

Way more fun than the Republican race for governor in June. Kelly Armstrong and Tammy Miller are beating the shit out of each other already on TV and online, and I expect newspaper ads to surface any day now. Armstrong has even given Miller her own website, and you can watch his Tall Tale Tammy ad there. The race has already gotten so silly, with almost two months to go until Election Day, that they’re arguing about who endorsed Donald Trump first. This is the first time in my political memory candidates from the same party have gone so negative against each other, out of fear the eventual winner could suffer enough damage to end up losing in the general election.

But there’s a long time between June and November, and voters have short memories, and the Democrats haven’t been putting up much of a fight lately. Piepkorn, though, is a pretty darn good candidate, and the damage done in the primary tussle could help him.

One other weird thing I noticed at the end of the convention is that some of the resolutions proposed at the Republican convention, to be included in the party’s platform, were so contentious that they were voted on by secret paper ballot, which were to be counted after the convention and the results announced sometime later. Hmmm. Paper ballots. Ring a bell? Sound familiar?

There really weren’t any other particular highlights at the Democrats’ convention, that I could tell. But North Dakota’s Democratic-NPL Party is at its lowest ebb ever, and probably won’t be much of a factor the rest of the year. Once again they left their state convention without filling a full slate of candidates for statewide office, and from what I’m hearing from around the state, they’ll likely leave about half the legislative seats uncontested again this year.

That’s sad, because one-party government is a bad thing and results in crazies like Becker and Bartlett and yes, Trump, to get elected. And when they get elected, they will be in charge. Frankly, that scares the shit out of me.

One thought on “JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — And Then The Conventions Were Over …”

  • John Burke April 13, 2024 at 1:19 am

    What a sad state of affairs in the state that I love!


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