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Berginski: A bit speculative, don’t you think?

By Staff | Mar 13, 2015

Before I begin this week’s column, I’d like to take the opportunity to put some speculation, questions or even rumors to rest. I’ve had quite a few people come up to me and ask if I’m going to be the new Tribune editor. It sounds like a tempting prospect, but the position is not for me.

Whew! Glad we got that out of the way. While we’re on the subject of speculation…

Last week, North Dakota op-ed columnist Lloyd Omdahl wrote that Republicans want Sen. Heidi Heitkamp to run for governor so they can “dry gulch” her in 2016 (“It’s a trap, Heidi Heitkamp”, 3/7 page A4). Hmmm. I presume he’s referring to House Bill 1181, which, if passed, would change how the state of North Dakota would fill a Senate seat should it ever be vacated. “Should it ever be vacated” being the operative words of that sentence.

HB 1181 (which would amend Section 16.1-13-08 of the North Dakota Century Code) would let the governor know that he or she is to call for a special election within 95 days of a Senate seat being vacated – unless that 95 days is before a Senator’s term ends. The Fargo Forum’s editorial board came out against the bill, calling it a political stunt aimed squarely at Heitkamp. Is it just me, or is everyone forgetting that North Dakota has two, count ’em, TWO senators? The same rule would apply if John Hoeven were to seek another office.

The supposed fear behind HB 1181 is that in the likelihood she wins, she could appoint a Democrat to take her place. Wow. Number one, that’s assuming whether or not she’s running at all. Two, it ignores incumbency – and that’s assuming whether or not Jack Dalrymple, or his lieutenant, Drew Wrigley, will run. Three, it presumes Republicans won’t have a strong field of candidates to choose from (should neither Dalrymple nor Wrigley run), and that Democrats would only have her and no one else in mind. And four, the bill hasn’t even passed in the house in which it was introduced. Which means that if ANY of our senators were to vacate his or her seat, either of the following could happen under current law: the governor would issue a writ of special election within 90 days, or the governor could appoint someone to fill the seat until either the next election or the term expires.

Everybody knows what happens when one assumes.

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