Posted 1/13/10 (Wed)
By Neal A. Shipman
The face of politics in North Dakota took on a whole new look following last week’s surprise announcement by U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D) that he will not be seeking a third term in the U.S. Senate. To say it was a bombshell of an announcement would have to be an understatement as it caught both members of the Democratic party as well as Republicans completely off guard.
No one will argue with the fact that Dorgan was one of the most personable and charismatic politicians in the state’s history. Ever since he was North Dakota’s State Treasurer, and later a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and finally serving as a U.S. Senator, Dorgan has served the people of North Dakota well for 40 years.
So why would Dorgan choose not to seek re-election at a time when the Democrats need him so badly in Washington, D.C. to maintain their majority? That is the question that many people both in Washington, D.C. and in North Dakota are asking.
Dorgan said that after careful thought over the Christmas break, he reached the personal decision that it was time to move on and to do something different. No one should blame him for making that personal decision. But there is also the possibility that he was concerned that after leading a long and successful political career, he was going to lose his re-election bid to North Dakota Governor John Hoeven. Was Dorgan’s thinking that it was better to leave on his accord and at the top of his career rather than to lose the election? That is a question that will just have to go unanswered.
Dorgan’s decision not to seek re-election announcement is definitely going to change the face of politics in North Dakota. As a Republican state, North Dakota voters have consistently elected Democrats to represent them in Washington, D.C.
Again, one has to wonder what implications his decision to not seek re-election will have on the upcoming elections. Considering Hoeven’s immense popularity in North Dakota, it would be safe to assume that he will now have a very easy campaign to win Dorgan’s seat. But what about Rep. Pomeroy who is also seeking another term in the U.S. House of Representatives? Will Dorgan’s moving on make it easier for Republicans to wage an effective campaign to unseat him? And if so, what does that mean when Senator Conrad comes up for re-election.
All interesting questions. And only time will tell what the voters of North Dakota want when they next go to the polls.
In the meantime, we need to extend to Senator Dorgan our sincere thanks for his lifetime of commitment to the people of North Dakota and hope that in his last months in office, he continues to serve the interests of the people that he represents.