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Goettle touts background in ag, law, business

Shane Goettle said Wednesday that his background in agriculture, law and small business issues have helped prepare him to stand out in the crowded race for the Republican endorsement for North Dakota's open U.S. House seat.

Shane Goettle

Shane Goettle said Wednesday that his background in agriculture, law and small business issues have helped prepare him to stand out in the crowded race for the Republican endorsement for North Dakota's open U.S. House seat.

During a meeting with the Herald's editorial board, Goettle said many people in the state know about his time as state commerce commissioner, a job he held from 2005 to 2010.

They also know about his work as state director for Republican Sen. John Hoeven, a position he resigned from last October.

But Goettle, 42, said he is stressing his other past jobs and his time growing up on a farm and ranch near Stanley, N.D., while he campaigns to be North Dakota's lone member of the House.

"And when I do, it really opens some eyes and I think I'm really able to effectively make the case that I'm the most experienced candidate with regard to the issues that Congress faces," he said.


The House spot is open because Republican Rep. Rick Berg is campaigning for retiring Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad's spot on the Senate.

The GOP endorsement for the House will be decided at the state convention in Bismarck this March. Goettle is competing with Kevin Cramer, Bette Grande, Brian Kalk and Kim Koppelman for the endorsement.


Goettle said he has had the entrepreneurial spirit since childhood, building up his 4-H Club and Future Farmers of America livestock herds since he was 10 and managing his family's farm records. He also started a gravel pit with his father and brother and said he expects business will take off this summer.

After earning a degree in agricultural economics from North Dakota State University, Goettle went to law school at Hamline University in St. Paul. He was a private-practice lawyer from 1995 to 2002 at the McGee Law Firm in Minot and was a partner in the firm for two years.

He said his time at the firm included securities work to help small businesses structure for success, and he also worked with seniors on estate planning, Medicaid issues and Social Security disability.

"Of course, understanding those two programs is very important for our congressman," he said.

Goettle worked in the Bush Administration from 2002 to 2005, serving as counsel to the Federal Housing Finance Board chairperson and holding several administrative positions within the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development office.


He came back to North Dakota in 2005 when then-Gov. Hoeven tapped him to serve as commerce commissioner, a role he held until 2010.

Goettle said the job gave him the opportunity to lead the EmPower ND Commission in developing a comprehensive energy policy for the state based on input from the private sector.

"It really is something that we've had great success with and it is what our country needs," he said. "So I connect with this idea -- because I've done it -- about creating a comprehensive energy policy for the United States."


Goettle said his biggest priority for the House would be dealing with the budget crisis and getting a grip on the growing national debt, which he said could endanger America's economy even more if it continues to rise.

"It becomes not just a sound bite anymore to say we need to cut spending; it becomes an imperative," he said. "We need to reduce spending, balance the budget and get that under control, while at the same time doing everything we can to get the economy revved up so that it grows."

Goettle said he favors reforming the tax code, federal regulations and the 2010 health care reform legislation to ensure the nation has a "good, solid" business climate that will help small businesses grow, add jobs and expand the taxpayer base to bring in more revenue.

That is the method North Dakota has used to achieve its economic success, he said, instead of trying to raise taxes to deal with budget shortfalls.


Goettle said regulation is still needed, but the federal government should "revisit" how it approaches regulating businesses so it does not hinder possible growth.

"There are a lot of ideas I have because of my experience in North Dakota and because of my experience in Washington, especially in an agency that was involved with business, about how we can have a more business-friendly environment," he said.

Johnson reports on local politics. Reach him at (701) 780-1105; (800) 477-6572, ext. 105; or send email to rjohnson@gfherald.com .

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