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Monday, November 12, 2018


THE MOST-WATCHED RACE in ND was the U.S. Senate contest which also drew national attention.  Kevin Cramer won with a 11-point margin over incumbent Heidi Heitkamp, making ND’s first dual Republican U.S. Senate since 1960.  This was ND’s most expensive political race ever with Heitkamp raising $27.6 million by mid-October, nearly five times Cramer.  Forum columnist Jim Shaw made this wry comment just before the election: “If Heidi Heitkamp loses, what is Forum News Service columnist Rob Port going to write about over the next six years?”

ONCE IN A CENTURY  Kelly Armstrong handily defeated Mac Schneider for ND’s U.S. House seat creating the state’s first all Republican congressional delegation in 98 years.  ND election weather was glum, wet and cold, but seemed quite sunny to Republican incumbents who swept all state offices.  Democratic candidates in decadesS past received support from ND’s many small farmers -- retired Forum editorial editor Jack Zaleski attributed recent Republican success to an era of larger farmers who identify more with business views.

A NEW STATE ETHICS LAW (Measure 1) passed easily, but a law permitting recreational marijuana (Measure 3) was defeated.  Columnist Mike Jacobs said there is a “sense of inevitability” about the marijuana measure and expect to see it again in perhaps different form.  Recreational marijuana is allowed on the other side of ND’s long border with Canada.

FARGO VOTERS amended the city’s home rule charter to permit “approval voting” allowing voters  to vote for as many candidates for mayor or commission seats as they want. The candidate or candidates with the most votes wins.  Fargo is the first city in the nation to have this form of voting.  Long-time political leader and ND House Majority Leader Al Carlson was unseated by newcomer Michelle Strinden in a district election in Fargo.  Strinden is the daughter-in-law of Earl Strinden, former Republican state House leader for 20 years.

NO NONSENSE  "In my family, there were no boy chores or girl chores. There's just things to get done . . . I have some big plans for this state.” — Kristi Noem, U.S. Rep. from South Dakota elected the state’s first female governor.  The quote is from remarks at her Sioux Falls election party.
IF THE SHOE FITS!  Jamestown designated much of its downtown as a blighted slum.  The City Council said it does not really like that designation, but it was necessary to participate in the state Main Street Program and qualify for Community Development Grants.  If approved, the grants will be used to improve downtown appearance, parking and lighting.

MALTING BARLEY  Jamestown’s efforts to industrialize seem to result in one step forward, then one step back.  The Cargill Malt Plant at Spiritwood, one of the largest in the world and capable of producing 440,000 tons of malt per year, closed at the end of October.  The 200-acre plant is Stutsman County’s largest taxpayer and had 55 employees at closing.  Cargill cited a change in the type of barley varieties and malt preferred by brewers as one of the reasons for closing.

FIDDLE YOUR WAY TO A LONG LIFE  Obituaries for people over 100 are becoming increasingly common, but most are for women.  Loren Roberts of Jamestown (105) is one of a few men who pass 100.  Having a long healthy life allowed Roberts to actively farm for over 70 years and enjoy 78 consecutive years of membership in The Elks.  Long-lived people usually have busy, active lives.  Roberts was the lead member of a family band known as the Rhythm Rangers which played at barn dances and weddings for over 30 years.

WHERE DO ND NATIVES LIVE?  For many decades preceding the recent Oil Boom, ND saw little or no growth.  Many young Nodaks left the state to find careers.  The obituary of Jean Jordan (101) of Mandan indicates she has eight children now living in seven states.  While that is an extreme example, it illustrates that a significant percentage of people born in ND may live outside the state.  There is no exact way to determine the percentage, but it would be interesting to see an informed estimate.

UNSUCCESSFUL, BUT PERSISTENT  The Standing Rock Sioux failed in their efforts to halt the Dakota Access pipeline which now moves about half of ND’s oil production.  They persuaded a federal judge to order an additional environmental study by the Corps of Engineers.  The study concluded that chances of negative impacts were low.  The tribe won’t stop — they have asked a federal judge to reject the COE findings saying: "The corps has conducted a sham process to arrive at a sham conclusion, for the second time.” 

“THIS IS THE MOST EXTREME CASE I’ve personally seen.” — Matt Brandenburger, operations manager for the company taking over the operations of the Ashby (Minnesota) Farmers Elevator Cooperative, which failed because of a $5 million fraud by the general manager.  Brandenburger works for WDCE Inc. which has acquired a number of failing grain companies and owns 17 locations in Minnesota.  The former Ashby GM is hiding and will likely be the subject of criminal charges.  Meanwhile, the son-in-law of the alleged embezzler has been appointed his successor.  Brandenburger said, “He knows more about the facility than anybody else.”

SEEK COVER  “Should Minnesota build a border wall along the Red River to protect democracy and the American dream from the threat of North Dakota?  Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure there are lots of good people in North Dakota: I know many of them. But it’s also clear that lots of dangerous extremists reside there who must not be allowed to cross over and threaten Minnesota residents.” — Minnesotan Alan Davis shaken by the defeat of Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and apprehensive about ND conservatives (not Minnesota nice).

DAKTOIDS:  ND has 50,000 heavy trucks — that excludes 39,000 farm trucks and 274,000 pickups (a category that also includes vehicles such as motorcycles and snowmobiles) . . . The NDSU Bison football team remains undefeated, is guaranteed a share of its conference championship and is qualified for the playoffs . . . UND hockey won three games against Big Ten opponents Minnesota and Wisconsin . . . “If you don’t have a cafe, you don’t have a town.” — “Beaver” Nodak, the owner of a cafe in Minto who contends cafes keep little towns alive.

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