- Associated Press - Thursday, February 4, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Minot Daily News, Minot, Jan. 30, 2016

Welcome home, Josh

All of North Dakota should be grateful, and the city of Minot proud, that we have such a willing and capable state ambassador as Josh Duhamel.

Oh, and let’s not forget how could we Josh’s wife, Fergie.

A lot of states, North Dakota among them, lay claim to any local who happens to make good in life or has the slightest brush with fame, whether the “star” wants to remain associated with the state or not.

It’s only natural, we suppose, for us to fall victim to Eric Hoffer’s “True Believer” philosophy that we want to associate ourselves with others’ achievements thus inviting ourselves into their realm.

Thank goodness it’s a lot more simple and honest with regards to Josh: He still loves North Dakota and North Dakota loves Josh Duhamel.

As he has done so ably in the past, Duhamel is again advocating for the state of North Dakota in TV and print ads that will run later this year promoting tourism “back home.”

According to a recent Associated Press article, Duhamel and his family get home to North Dakota a couple of times a year to destress, catch up with friends and family, and travel the open roads like, well, like everyday tourists.

“They treat us like we’re regular people,” Duhamel told the AP.

It’s likely that most North Dakotans keep an eye out for appearances anywhere by Josh Duhamel and he’s everywhere so we all have something to look forward to in the months of May and June when the ads will run. But consider then that plenty other readers and viewers, some who know little or nothing about North Dakota, are tuned in too, not just because they’ve never seen a butte or a bison before, but because Josh Duhamel’s face is on the page they are reading or the screen they are watching.

For those of us who are native North Dakotans, perhaps we should take a look around for ourselves and notice again exactly what we have that keeps the Duhamels coming back home again and again.


The Bismarck Tribune, Bismarck, Feb. 4, 2016

N.D. needs strong political parties

The North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party was facing an uphill battle this year and the climb became steeper last week when Sarah Vogel decided not to run for governor. She was the party’s big hope, a candidate with a fine record who could be counted on to rally the party faithful.

Now the party has no candidate to carry the Democratic-NPL banner, in fact, they don’t have any candidates for state offices or the U.S. House. They promise announcements soon as the party’s convention nears. However, it’s doubtful anyone of the stature of Vogel will be found to lead the ticket. Even Vogel had her drawbacks - she hadn’t run for office in 20 years and was unknown to younger voters.

The struggles aren’t new for the Democratic-NPL Party - it had to work two years ago to fill the state ballot. Some of the candidates had no name recognition across the state which contributed to the party’s losses. They need to do better this year and they don’t have much time left to field candidates. They hold one Senate seat and the Republicans own the rest of the delegation and all state offices. The Democrats are in the minority in both chambers of the Legislature.

Some would argue there isn’t anything to worry about, that Republicans are doing a good job of running the state. There needs to be competition to keep those in office from being complacent. Competition can drive people to come up with new ideas and solutions. At the moment the Democrats need to find ways to become competitive and then worry about getting elected.

After Gov. Jack Dalrymple announced 4.05 percent budget cuts for state agencies this week, Senate Minority Leader Mac Schneider, D-Grand Forks, said legislators should have more involvement in the budget decision. He suggested that Democrats might make a move during the next session to amend the process, but the Democrats don’t hold enough seats in either chamber to pass anything. It’s unlikely the November election will improve the Democrats’ situation.

The Democrats, however, can’t give up. They need to find candidates willing to sacrifice - putting personal and business lives on hold - to run for office. If they lose, the party can’t give up on them and needs to convince them to run again. The party needs to find ways to give them financial help.

North Dakota has become virtually a one-party state and that’s not good, even for the Republicans. It means the campaigns lack spirited debate and the exchange of ideas that can prompt North Dakotans to vote. If you are a candidate with a 20-point lead in the polls there’s no incentive to be aggressive and stick your neck out on issues. Instead, you coast to victory.

Underdogs can win, but it takes a lot of work and all the pieces must fall into place.

The Libertarian Party has been trying to become a player in recent elections and they have announced candidates, but so far they haven’t been a determining factor at the polls. If the Democrats can start to chip away at the Republicans and the Libertarians can continue to grow, the state may get the competitive edge it needs.

Competition can bring fresh ideas and enthusiasm to the political arena. If the state gets that, everyone wins.

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