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N.D. GOVERNOR RACE: Dalrymple wants to continue state's forward momentum

BISMARCK -- Gov. Jack Dalrymple believes his experience in government and the private sector puts him in a unique position to contribute to the future growth of North Dakota and to make a difference.

BISMARCK -- Gov. Jack Dalrymple believes his experience in government and the private sector puts him in a unique position to contribute to the future growth of North Dakota and to make a difference.

Dalrymple announced Tuesday morning that he will enter the race for governor in 2012 and seek a full term as governor. The announcement comes almost a year after the former lieutenant governor inherited the job when former Gov. John Hoeven stepped down to serve in the U.S. Senate.

Dalrymple, 63, traveled across the state Tuesday to make his announcement, which includes keeping Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley as his running mate.

"It's really just a situation where my background and my situation in life right now, you know, make this possible for me and Betsy," Dalrymple told Forum Communications. "Betsy and I have decided this is what we not only want to do, but what we feel we should do."

Betsy Dalrymple said she went back and forth in the past year about whether it was right to seek a full term.

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"As the year went on, it just seemed like Jack was handling all of these crises so well," she said. "It just seemed like there were ways that we both could help people in North Dakota."

North Dakota Democratic-NPL Chairman Greg Hodur criticized the timing of Dalrymple's announcement.

"Jack Dalrymple's announcement comes as no surprise," Hodur said in a statement. "However, the real question is whether or not it is appropriate for him to spend this week campaigning, fundraising and essentially politicking instead of preparing for the special session?"

Those living in temporary housing in Minot, paying $2,000 rent in Williston and living along the Missouri River in Bismarck are more interested in learning about plans to help their communities recover than in a political announcement, Hodur said.

In his announcement speech, Dalrymple, a Republican, highlighted the state's thousands of new job opportunities and the need to continue that momentum.

The state's strong financial situation is also an opportunity to catch up on infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, buildings and water projects, and make these one-time investments, he said. At the same time, the state needs to continue responsible management of the state budget, he said.

Dalrymple also wants to see continued progress in tax relief.

He also talked about the state's challenges. Housing is a "tremendous need" due to the state's rapid economic growth, Dalrymple said.

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He said the only solution to a housing shortage is to build more housing, "but it does take some time."

The infrastructure needs in the western part of the state get talked about a lot, but the Fargo diversion is just as much of an infrastructure challenge, Dalrymple said. Counties and townships also have great infrastructure needs, he said.

"Believe me, where I live in Casselton, I'm just as concerned about my gravel road as anybody out there," he said.

Addressing flood impacts is also critical, including helping people rebuild their homes, addressing floodways, and helping cities and counties with infrastructure, Dalrymple said.

With K-12 education, Dalrymple said he wants to see more focus on making sure state-supported programs prepare students for college and for work on the day they graduate.

Dalrymple also thinks the governor needs to be involved with helping develop a model where colleges are funded in a way that people can understand and can determine is fair and adequate.

"We have a problem right now with a college funding formula that is not transparent, is not logical and is leading to a high level of frustration among legislators and people generally," Dalrymple said. "That's not a good thing."

Dalrymple said the past year was different than he expected. The steady stream of one flooding disaster after another led to a "once in a lifetime experience," he said.

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"We're incredibly proud of the way our communities responded, you know, to the challenge," Dalrymple said. "But I also found that it became an opportunity for me to show that I can provide the leadership that is required in that situation."

As far as future political ambitions, Dalrymple said he's concentrating on the 2012 race.

"If we should be so fortunate as to win that election, then we'll see what happens down the road," he said.

Teri Finneman is the Multimedia Correspondent for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Herald.

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