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Speculation on governor's race begins

FARGO -- Tuesday's historic election reshaped North Dakota's political landscape and created a dizzying array of potential scenarios for the future of the state's politics.

Drew Wrigley at Obama visit
Drew Wrigley on July 3, 2008, during President Barack Obama's visit to Fargo. Herald photo by Eric Hylden

FARGO -- Tuesday's historic election reshaped North Dakota's political landscape and created a dizzying array of potential scenarios for the future of the state's politics.

Some observers are already looking at where the cards might fall in two years, when voters will decide in the state's next gubernatorial election.

Several prominent North Dakota political figures have shown an interest in running for governor, but the shake-up in Bismarck resulting from Tuesday's general election could change the game.

Republican Gov. John Hoeven's victory in the U.S. Senate election caused a domino effect in the governor's office.

Lt. Gov. Jack Dalrymple will become governor when Hoeven resigns Dec. 7. State law allows Dalrymple to name his replacement, which he announced Thursday would be former U.S. attorney Drew Wrigley, a well-known Republican in the state.


Dalrymple said Thursday it's far too soon to speculate on whether he'll seek a full four-year term in 2012.

Wrigley, 45, sought out the lieutenant governor appointment months ago and admits he's "not shy" about his political aspirations for public office in North Dakota.

Yet, Wrigley was vague Thursday about whether he wants to run for governor -- whether in two years or at some future date. He has previously voiced specific interest in seeking the job.

Dalrymple and Wrigley said they have a gentlemen's agreement about their 2012 intentions.

"Drew and I have talked, and he said that he's not going to try and knock me off or anything like that if I decide to run -- so that was comforting," Dalrymple said, with a hearty laugh.

Wrigley said if Dalrymple seeks a full term, he'd be open to serving as Dalrymple's running mate.

"If Jack determines that he's going to run, does that make this less desirable a job? It doesn't," Wrigley said.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem is viewed as another Republican who could seek the state party's nomination for governor in 2012.


But Stenehjem also said it's too soon to say what might happen.

"Anyone who's thought for longer than three minutes about what I'm going to do in two years has thought about that longer than I have," said Stenehjem, who handily won re-election Tuesday to another four-year term.

Among state Democrats, former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp and lame-duck incumbent U.S. Rep. Earl Pomeroy are among the names that have surfaced as potential contenders in the 2012 governor race.

Just days after Pomeroy lost to Republican challenger Rick Berg on Tuesday, his spokesman, Brenden Timpe reiterated: "It's much too early to speculate on what the future might hold for him."

The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.

Drew Wrigley
Former North Dakota U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley, waits to be introduced Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010, during an event in the North Dakota Capitol's Memorial Hall in Bismarck where Jack Dalrymple named Wrigley the state's new lieutenant governor. Dalrymple is expected to become governor next month after Gov. John Hoeven resigns. (AP Photo/Dale Wetzel)

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