Other views: Dorgan not running has larger implicationsNorth Dakota’s political stare-down ended abruptly Jan. 5 when Byron Dorgan blinked. The state’s junior U.S. senator said he would not run for re-election. His announcement likely clears the way for Gov. John Hoeven, who announced his candidacy for the seat Monday, and probably to win, barring another bombshell.
By: Grand Forks Herald, The Jamestown Sun
North Dakota’s political stare-down ended abruptly Jan. 5 when Byron Dorgan blinked.
The state’s junior U.S. senator said he would not run for re-election.
His announcement likely clears the way for Gov. John Hoeven, who announced his candidacy for the seat Monday, and probably to win, barring another bombshell.
All of this has major implications for North Dakota, some no doubt unforeseen.
It’s also significant nationally.
The essential facts are these: Dorgan is a Democrat. Hoeven is a Republican.
At its most basic, Dorgan’s decision makes it much less likely that Democrats can hold onto the 60-vote majority they need to move legislation.
The decision also removes an authentic populist voice from the national scene. Dorgan has been a spokesman for what’s thought of as a progressive approach to economic policy. This made him a critic of the Federal Reserve and a supporter of greater regulation in such areas as finance and air transportation.
To champion these causes, Dorgan has written two books and hundreds of articles for national and local publications.
His decision also removes the one North Dakota political figure who owes — and pays — homage to the state’s radical past. Much of his success has stemmed from his close identification with the historic Nonpartisan League and with the state’s cooperatives and labor unions.
So with his departure, an era passes.
What lies in store, beyond a Republican in one of the state’s Senate seats?
Probably more Republican victories. Democrats have simply failed to develop bench strength that would have kept them competitive when the big names bowed out.
Earl Pomeroy, the state’s only member of the House of Representatives, might be endangered by Dorgan’s decision, too, because it frees up money for a Republican candidate. It’s possible, at least, that Republicans will find a credible opponent for Pomeroy, another Democrat. Or Pomeroy could seek Dorgan’s Senate seat.
These are only the early implications of Dorgan’s announcement.
The announcement was indeed abrupt. Dorgan had been raising money, and last year, he ran some advertising. He’d given every sign that he was running.
So convinced were North Dakota Democrats that many probably still are pinching themselves as a reality check.
But Dorgan’s decision is not too surprising. A poll late last year showed him behind Hoeven in a theoretical matchup. Dorgan denies that the prospect of a bruising election battle influenced his decision, but he’s backed away from tough contests in the past.
In any case, at 67, Dorgan is at the age when most Americans expect to be retired. He’s had a distinguished political career. He’s made a significant contribution to the national debate on a range of issues. He’s brought millions of dollars to the state helping develop businesses and institutions that will serve North Dakota for a long time.
This is a proud legacy.
It would have made a pretty good campaign platform.