"I don't have a party. I'm an independent."

That's what Dr. Shelley Lenz told me on this episode of Plain Talk.

Lenz is a veterinarian from western North Dakota who is also heavily involved in international aid work through a nonprofit she founded. Despite her assertions of independence, she is running for the North Dakota Democratic Party's gubernatorial nomination.

She said part of the reason why she wants to declare independence is she wants to draw a distinction between North Dakota Democrats and their national counterparts.

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"The Democratic party is redefining itself," she told me, acknowledging the struggles Democrats have had in North Dakota, particularly in the western part of the state. "How did we lose the farmers and workers? That's who we are."

During our interview she talked about why she feels North Dakota's state government is ignoring the needs of the western part of the state. She also addressed her views on energy development, social issues, taxes, and regulation.

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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, a North Dakota political blog, is a Forum Communications commentator. Listen to his Plain Talk Podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RobPort.