ND Democratic convention picks Taylor as candidateGRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ryan Taylor said Friday his campaign would try to end a GOP stranglehold on the top elected offices, calling Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple part of a "small ruling class" beholden to wealthy campaign donors.
By: Dale Wetzel, Associated Press, The Jamestown Sun
GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ryan Taylor said Friday his campaign would try to end a GOP stranglehold on the top elected offices, calling Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple part of a "small ruling class" beholden to wealthy campaign donors.
Speaking to hundreds of cheering state Democratic convention delegates shortly after they endorsed his candidacy, Taylor said his race against Dalrymple would give North Dakotans "our chance, at this special time, to elect a people's governor."
Taylor, a rancher who wore a white cowboy hat during his speech, described himself as someone who "comes from the grass-roots, who saddles his own horse and pitches his own hay."
Taylor was the only candidate for the Democratic endorsement. He has served in the North Dakota Senate for a decade, and was the Senate minority leader during the 2011 Legislature.
His speech capped the opening day of the party's convention in Grand Forks.
Delegates also endorsed Ross Mushik, a Mandan businessman, for state treasurer and Tom Potter, a retired finance professor at the University of North Dakota, for insurance commissioner. The Republican incumbents, Treasurer Kelly Schmidt and Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm, are running for re-election.
On Saturday, delegates will endorse their favorite candidates for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House and hear from former President Bill Clinton, who is visiting the city 15 years after it was swamped by the flooding Red River.
Dalrymple's re-election campaign spokeswoman Amanda Godfread said all North Dakotans were benefiting from job growth, tax reductions and improvements in North Dakota's public works that have taken place under Dalrymple's administration.
"Our campaign will be made of positive messages about what's possible in the state," she said. "It's unfortunate that right out of the gate, the Democrats have chosen to resort to negative attacks."
In Potter's speech to delegates, he praised the new federal health care law, referring to it repeatedly as "Obamacare" — a term the GOP often uses. He spoke of trying to get a new health insurance plan after his wife, former Democratic state Rep. Louise "Weezie" Potter, of Grand Forks, lost her election two years ago — and the state-paid health insurance that covered the couple.
He said the same coverage would have cost $1,100 a month. But Potter, a lay Presbyterian minister at a Red Lake Falls, Minn., church, found similar coverage through a church organization for $650 a month.
"A price difference that big can only be created when insurance companies don't have to compete for our business," Potter said. The federal health care law, he said, forces companies "to begin to compete with each other."
Taylor said the breakneck pace of oil development in western North Dakota has created thousands of lucrative jobs and filled state government's coffers with tax collections. But, he said, there is also a significant social impact that Dalrymple's administration has overlooked.
"Certainly, oil provides much for our economy, and yes, we're going to get every drop of oil in due time as the market demands, but nothing comes for free," Taylor said. "And we can't break the spirit of our fellow North Dakotans in an unbridled rush for fast fortune."
His administration would consider devoting oil money to college scholarships for North Dakota students, broadening availability of day care and funding public works to protect North Dakota communities against chronic flooding, Taylor said.
Taylor said he and Dalrymple should be on even footing as candidates because neither has been elected governor. Dalrymple, a former lieutenant governor, ascended to the job in December 2008 after his predecessor, Gov. John Hoeven, was elected to the U.S. Senate.
Taylor called Dalrymple "part of a small ruling class" that has had "the money and interest flow in."
"We will not sell out our quality of life for campaign contributions," Taylor said. "With me as governor, North Dakota will not be for sale, because I am not for sale, and I am beholden to no person and no network of country-club cronies."