Unheralded

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — ‘Peaches Help You Poop’

On my first trip to the grocery store, or to anywhere besides the recliner in my living room, after a 10-day hospital stay and 10 days of home confinement for treatment of a badly infected leg, I bought four peaches. California peaches, it said on the little label, not Georgia or Washington, the ones we prefer. But they were the …


Unheralded

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — North Dakota Republicans Riding High (But Welcome Back, Potter, And So Long, Ricky)

I think I’ve gone to a political convention of some kind in almost every even-numbered year since 1972. That year, 50 years ago now, I came home from the Navy and went to my district Democratic-NPL convention, and someone said, “Hey. We’ve got a Vietnam veteran here today, let’s send him as a delegate to the State Convention.” That’s a …


JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — ‘Responsibility Is Not Applicable’

Only the most cynical among us could have come up with a scenario for the game that played out in the election of legislators from legislative District 8, a scenario that came to an end Tuesday when the North Dakota Supreme Court settled it. Final score: Jeff Delzer 5 Doug Burgum 0. It started in the spring of 2016, when …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Vacancy? What Vacancy?

Here’s the thing about North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum’s move Wednesday to jump in the middle of the bizarre District 8 legislative mess and appoint a coal company executive to fill the vacancy left by the death and subsequent election of Dave Andahl: Right now, there’s no vacancy to be filled. By now, all the newspapers are telling the story …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Requiescant In Pace, North Dakota Democrats

Here’s my short analysis of Tuesday’s election results in North Dakota. There were 69 legislative seats on the ballot across the state in 23 legislative districts. One Senate seat and two House seats in each district. Republicans won 65 of those seats. Democrats won four. The absolute worst performance by a political party (excluding fringe parties) in state history. RIP, …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Sweet Revenge

I promise, I’m not making this up because even someone with a mind as twisted as mine could not come up with a story this absurd. It’s the story of the race for the Legislature in North Dakota’s Legislative District 8. Yes, North Dakota’s attorney general says to the voters of District 8, you just go right ahead and vote …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Dear District 8 Republicans: Please Vote For The Dead Guy

As if this election year isn’t crazy enough already, in one of the most maudlin election tactics I’ve ever seen, North Dakota Republicans are urging voters to cast their ballots for a dead man. This bizarre recommendation comes from North Dakota Republican Party Chairman Rick Berg (not to be confused with Rick Becker, a real bizarre Republican) in the case …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Who’s REALLY At Fault For The Failures Of Measure 3?

Labor Day. Ah, September. The “Dog Days of August” are behind us. Except that this year the dogs never showed up. August used to be the month the politicians took time off to take the kids (and the dog) to the lake, while preparing for a campaign to begin after Labor Day. Not this year. In August 2020, the North …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Election Reform

So we won’t be voting on Measure 3 in November. Because there is no Measure 3. The North Dakota Supreme Court says so. And it, not Al Jaeger, gets the final say. I’m actually a little disappointed. I told a few friends this past week I was going to hold my nose and vote for it because there some things …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Nobody Ever Got Rich Betting Against Doug Burgum

Four years ago, on the morning after the 2016 North Dakota Primary Election, I wrote a column with the headline “What The Hell Just Happened?” Doug Burgum pulled off one of the biggest upsets in North Dakota political history, giving Wayne Stenehjem a sound beating in their race for the Republican nomination for governor. Burgum did it by spending a …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Heavyweights, Lightweights and Republican Squabbles In 2020

Geez, Doug Burgum must be really pissed off at Jeff Delzer. Burgum is North Dakota’s governor. Delzer is a state representative from District 8, and a powerful one — chairman of the important North Dakota House of Representatives Appropriations Committee. Some say Delzer is the most powerful of all state legislators. Also one of the biggest. Kind of pumpkin-shaped. A BIG pumpkin. …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Elections And Things

Some politics today. Caucuses, conventions, initiated measures and great PR work. Caucuses and Conventions A letter writer in The Forum on Friday morning expressed his displeasure with Tuesday’s North Dakota caucuses saying, “I can remember when we voted in a primary election by using one side or the other of the ballot to vote our party preference. Republicans and Democrats …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Some Thoughts On Election Reform In 2020

In his regular Tuesday morning column in the Grand Forks Herald this week, Mike Jacobs wrote, “This is the last day of a year that’s made just about everybody uneasy about the state of our politics. To use a flood analogy, it seems as if the waters have divided and are rushing down parallel ditches. And there’s nobody on the …

RON SCHALOW: North Dakota’s Special K’s Always Have Donnie T’s Back

Well, we watched our right-wing terror network working out some frustration in El Paso, Texas, plus the American terrorists currently listed as agnostic that shot up Gilroy, Calif., Dayton, Ohio, and those coming soon to your neck of the woods. And that was on top of our regular body count. Flags were lowered. The usual suspects drew their swords in …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — What Does A State Treasurer Do, Anyway?

There’s an old joke North Dakota Republican legislators tell about their worst nightmare: They’re walking down the Great Hall in the Capitol heading for the cafeteria on their short lunch break and they see Secretary of State Al Jaeger coming toward them. Knowing they’re going to get stuck in a boring 15-minute conversation, they pretend they forgot something back at …

RON SCHALOW: The Braveheart Of Bismarck

So, in the early half of Sunday the 10th, doctor and Rep. Rick Becker posted a meme on Facebook. Memes are evidently photos that convey what you’re thinking but could never find the words, or ever thought of one. Like a greeting card that punches you in the balls. Or provides a message of affirmation, whether you want one or …

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Gov. Burgum And The Five Mousketeers

Remember when Gov. Doug Burgum reimbursed Xcel Energy $37,000 for expenses it had paid for his and his wife’s trip to the Super Bowl? He made the repayment after questions of ethics in government were raised. That helped spur passage of Measure No. 1 last November — an initiated measure to counter the rampant gifts, meals, liquor and perks bestowed by corporate …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Why The Republicans Control North Dakota Government

Pretty much every political pundit (including me) has declared the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party dead after this year’s election, and the debate continues to rage (well, maybe not rage, but to be discussed) among Democrats about what caused the demise of the party after so many years as a major political force in our state. Most of my friends have …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Money Can’t Buy Me Love

As the Beatles sang in their 1964 hit, “Money Can’t Buy Me Love,” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s millions of dollars collected in the wake of her vote against Trump Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh weren’t enough to sway North Dakota’s Republican bias, and she took areal thumping in her race against Congressman Kevin Cramer for the U.S. Senate. Midterm elections are notorious …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — The Heidi-Kevin Show

OK, people, I’m warning you, I took Ambien, so anything could happen. Then again, I might simply nod off. It would be much worse if you nodded off. Now would be a perfect time for that energy drink, or if you want something less stimulating, crack cocaine. I now keep my energy drinks in a gun safe because of what …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Who’s Got Money, Who Doesn’t? And Who Didn’t File A Report?

AND THE WINNER IS … Ryan Rauschenberger! North Dakota’s election laws require all candidates for statewide and legislative offices to file campaign finance disclosure statements three times a year — before the primary election, before the general election and at the end of the year. All contributions greater than $200 from an individual or a political action committee must be …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Here I Come To Save The Day

President Donald Trump’s propensity to just make stuff up and spit it out to the media, or via Twitter, is contagious. I’m afraid Al Jaeger has caught the bug. C’mon, Al, you’re better than this. Dang. Background: At the State Republican Convention a month or so ago, convention delegates, disregarding Secretary of State Al Jaeger’s 25 years of loyal service …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Potpourri

Laurel or Yanny? Weird week. Everyone was weighing in on the Laurel or Yanny question. Some heard the robotic voice on the Internet say “Yanny”, others heard “Laurel.” Others thought their iPad was possessed by Stephen Hawking, Linda Blair or M. Night Shyamalan. The president heard “covfefe”. As for me, I distinctly heard, “Paul is dead.” and I think, in …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Monday Morning Update On Will Gardner

Although Peeping Will Gardner has said he will “withdraw from the election of Secretary of State,” because it’s “the best decision for my family and me,” (you can read more about that in earlier post) the ballot for the June 12 primary election is already printed, and his name is on it. So, on June 12, voters will go to …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — ‘If If There’s Anything You Ever Did In Your Life You Don’t Want To See On The Front Page Of The Paper …’

From time to time over the years, I’ve received phone calls from aspiring politicians seeking advice on whether to run for some public office. Generally, it’s something like, “Hey, Jim, I’m thinking about running for dogcatcher. I’m wondering what you think about that. You got any advice for me?” My first response is always the same. “Well, that’s great. It …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Another Kerfuffle

I’d like to begin this week by saying, “That darn Heidi Heitkamp.” I’m referring, of course, to last week’s column in The Forum in which Mike McFeely ever-so-gently, in his curmudgeonly way, suggested that fellow columnist Rob Port might try writing about someone other than Heidi Heitkamp. Like maybe Joel Heitkamp. I mean, I ain’t exactly Sherlock Holmes, but if …

RON SCHALOW: Poor Paranoid Lying Port

My buddy, Rob Port, used the coveted space for his Sunday column to set up a hypothetical Festivus pole, air his grievances and sob over his keyboard. My sources say he paced in the hall for a solid 45 seconds before getting winded and falling into a heap of self-pity. The feats of strength portion of Festivus was canceled, due …

RON SCHALOW: Port And Cramer — Making Collusion Fun Again

I bought a gizmo that is supposed to drive away vermin by emitting a super high-pitched sound. I wanted a herd of hard-partying ants on a sugar high to take a hike. Or take a long walk off a short pier, like my uncles used to tell me on a regular basis. It’s undignified to live with insects that strut …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — The Race For An Open Seat In Congress

North Dakota’s Democrats will hold their state convention in Grand Forks later this week, and the highlight, if there’s to be one, will be choosing a candidate to run for North Dakota’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. So I’ve been thinking a bit about politics and conventions, especially past ones, similar to what we might see this …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Memories Of A Great Governor

Calm was the day in late July And bright was the sun across the sky But inside his chest the calm had broken Governor Sinner had started croakin’. I laughed the first time I read that, and I’m still laughing every time I think about it. It’s a poem written by a sixth-grader from Turtle Lake, N.D., about Gov. George …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Seems To Be A Lot Of POS’s Around These Days

North Dakota’s district political conventions are about over, and state conventions are coming up, so I thought I might write a few political columns for the next few weeks. I’ve been hanging out around politics for a few years, and still have a pretty good memory (something my wife would dispute), and I still know a lot of the players …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Musical Chairs Leaves Land Commissioner Without A Job

I really thought (and kind of hoped) when I read in the paper Friday morning that the State Land Board had said good-bye to its longtime North Dakota State Land Commissioner, Lance Gaebe, that the next story I would read about him would be his appointment as director of the USDA Rural Development office in North Dakota. But Donald Trump, …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Anybody Want To Have A Fundraiser? Here’s A List

This one is for North Dakotans — and those who follow North Dakota politics. I received an e-mail this week from some thoughtful person who thought I might be interested in a fundraising event for State Rep. Al Carlson, the Republican legislative leader. Turns out I wasn’t interested in the fundraiser, but I was interested in the e-mail. The e-mail, which …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Bully For Billy

If you didn’t like Billy Kretschmar, the fault was not his. Billy was a fixture in the North Dakota House of Representatives from 1974 to 2016, with one lost election in between, and during that time, most politicians would have developed fierce enemies. If Billy had them, I don’t know who they are. When I deconstructed his career in a …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Ben Hanson For Congress: A Good Idea

So it begins. North Dakota has its first official candidate in the 2018 election. Given all the weird shit (read: Trump) that’s been going on over the past eight months or so, I’m eager for a fresh start, and my young friend, Ben Hanson, has provided that. Thank you, Ben. Ben sent me an e-mail shortly after midnight last night …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Herb Meschke: A Brilliant Mind In A Broken Body

They’ll bury Herb Meschke later this week. I don’t know if it will be in the North Dakota Bad Lands, where he was born and raised, or in Minot, where he spent most of his life. Wherever it is, his presence will enhance the stature of the cemetery. Herb was a cowboy, a lawyer, a legislator, a judge and a …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Beware The Ides Of March

An apology to my readers. I was born with a weak spine. Literally but not figuratively — I hope. So, I’ve had these recurring back problems since I reached middle age. They’re usually fixable, but it takes some time, and I’m in one of those time periods right now. The doctors started working on it in early February, and they …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Rerun

I think I’m just going to rerun this column from the Unheralded.Fish website from two years ago about this time of the year in every odd-numbered year from now on. Nothing seems to change. Why should I spend a bunch of time writing something new? Nobody seems to be paying any attention anyway. JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — …

RON SCHALOW: Where We Are Now — Our Sad State Of Affairs

I could start this Fish thing with something less nauseating, but political talk is required this close to an election. It’s a rule — or something. There’s no point in adding more words to the Trump and Clinton compost pile, but I will anyway. One is a grabby psychopath pig, that smells like an ugly 4-months dead squid. Or so …

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Lack Of Legislative Ethics Code Leaves Integrity In Question

Once upon a time, there was a legislator who had to report campaign donations by amount and by donor … one who had to disclose how his funds were spent … one who would explain why a donor was not creating a conflict of interest. Once upon a time, this same legislator was bound by a code of ethics. It …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Crossing Over-Thank You, Dick Dobson, For The Reminder

By most measures, Dick Dobson should be about 150 years old. He’s got some hard miles on him, but at 81, he’s still got his memory and his health, and at that age, you can’t ask for much more. For those of you who don’t remember him, Dobson is the former editor and publisher of the Minot Daily News, and …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — What The Hell Just Happened?

WTF? Nobody — not me, not you, not Doug Burgum — could have predicted that outcome. Some predicted a Burgum win. Not me, although I had this nagging feeling every time I saw Ed Schafer on TV that maybe, just maybe, it could happen. But too many times I have predicted an election outcome because I wanted that outcome, not because I …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — High Praise

Well, high praise from Pat Finken on Monday, in the form of an email from the Brighter Future Fund. Finken’s superpac, Brighter Future Fund (yeah, right) is a big supporter of Wayne Stenehjem. Finked created his superpac in 2012 with money from the North Dakota Republican Party and a bunch of big GOP donors like Jim Roers, Steve Scheel and Jim Arthaud …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Voting For Burgum: A Primer For Democrats

It was late afternoon on an dreary late October day in 1990. I was stopped at the Fifth Street railroad crossing in downtown Bismarck, waiting for a train to go by on the tracks in front of me. I looked to my left and there, in the car beside me, was Ed Schafer. He spotted me about the same time. He …