Local leaders taken by surpriseOne thing is consistent in the grassroots reaction to the decision by Sen. Byron Dorgan not to seek re-election this year. No one saw it coming. “I was stunned,” said Delores Rath, chairwoman for District 12 Republicans. “My phone was hot last night; it will be a big topic within the Republican Party.” The reaction was similar within Dorgan’s own party.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
One thing is consistent in the grassroots reaction to the decision by Sen. Byron Dorgan not to seek re-election this year. No one saw it coming.
“I was stunned,” said Delores Rath, chairwoman for District 12 Republicans. “My phone was hot last night; it will be a big topic within the Republican Party.”
The reaction was similar within Dorgan’s own party.
“It came as a total surprise,” said Ruth Urdahl, District 29 chairwoman for the Democratic Party. “I’m disappointed but I realized he’s the same age as I am and should be able to slow down a bit.”
Only a few of the district-level leaders would speculate on the reasons behind Dorgan’s decision.
“Maybe the atmosphere in Congress had something to do with it,” said Ed Kuhlman, District 24 Republican chairman. “The way Congress was going about health care is not sitting well with a lot of people.”
The local political leaders for both parties would only speculate as to who will be in the Senate race this fall. All agreed the process may be a lot more interesting with no incumbent in the picture.
“He was a front runner on the ticket anytime he was on the ballot,” said Dean Remboldt, Democratic Party chairman for District 12. “I’d like to see Joel Heitkamp run but there are others that would be equally qualified.”
Other names circulated by local Democratic leaders included Heidi Heitkamp and Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., who removed himself from consideration by confirming Wednesday afternoon he will seek re-election to his current House seat.
“It will make for a more interesting election,” Remboldt said. “At least for a more interesting party convention.”
Names floated by the Republican district leaders for their party’s nomination included Gov. John Hoeven, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, Lt. Gov. Jack Dalrymple and former North Dakota U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley.
“It could be a more interesting political season,” Rath said. “Depending on who runs.”
His decision will be viewed by some along strictly party lines.
“I can’t visualize the Senate without Dorgan,” Urdahl said. “We’ll miss his involvement and wisdom.”
Some Republican leaders seemed to look forward to a change.
“I wish him the best in his new endeavors,” Rath said. “I hope we have a clean campaign based on issues, not personality. We need to work together as Americans.”
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at (701) 952-8452 or by e-mail at email@example.com