Republicans this week gained even larger advantages throughout the region.
North Dakota’s statewide results shouldn’t raise any eyebrows: Gov. Doug Burgum and U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong rolled to huge wins over their Democratic opponents. No surprises there.
The GOP’s widespread gain at the legislative level, however, is a somewhat surprising development. Republicans won 65 of 69 legislative elections Tuesday, increasing their already strong advantage in the North Dakota Legislature. Heading into the next session – which begins in January – Republicans have a 40-7 advantage in the state Senate and an 80-14 advantage in the state House of Representatives.
After Tuesday’s results came in, North Dakota Republican Party Chairman Rick Berg said the results show North Dakotans are pleased with the way Republicans are running the state. He also said he couldn’t recall one party holding so much influence in North Dakota politics.
Speaking of supermajorities, check out what happened in South Dakota: When that state’s lawmakers gather next year in Pierre, there will be just 11 Democrats among the entire legislative body of 105 after the GOP picked up five more seats Tuesday. South Dakota’s Senate now includes 32 Republicans and three Democrats; in the House, it’s 62-8.
Another indicator of the GOP wave: state Rep. Corey Mock, D-Grand Forks, won by just 19 votes – a slim margin that is headed for a recount. Proof of Republican thinking could possibly be found in Mock’s diminishing margin of victories over the past three elections. Mock is a good lawmaker and, as a member of the House Appropriations Committee, he is valuable to Grand Forks. But he’s got a “D” after his name, which makes him vulnerable.
Case in point: Collin Peterson. The longtime congressman – he had a tenure of three decades – was trounced Tuesday by Republican challenger Michelle Fischbach. It’s not that Fischbach doesn’t have the credentials for the job; she’s a former state lawmaker and one-time lieutenant governor. It’s that Peterson had power in his position as chairman of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee and was backed, whether officially or unofficially, by various ag groups in western and northwestern Minnesota, a region that relies heavily on the ag economy.
Fischbach won handily – 54% to Peterson’s 40%. If the win was a mild surprise, the margin of victory is stunning.
And the Republican surge continues.
As we have said before in this space, supermajorities are not necessarily healthy in politics. Yes, they ensure one party’s platform generally holds sway, and since voters put those lawmakers in place, it means the people’s wishes are being upheld. It’s an entirely fair process and we have no great complaints about how Republicans have led the state in recent years. But without healthy give-and-take that comes with relatively equal party representation, the people miss out on potentially improving government for all.
That said, we do see the Republican surge being of use locally. As community leaders push for legislative favor in the coming biennium, having a strong Republican contingent – ranging from the mayor to the majority of the legislators that represent the city – should help in the dark-red environment of the Legislature and governor’s office.