- Associated Press - Thursday, July 28, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The Bismarck Tribune, Bismarck, July 28, 2016

Democrats need to heed Heitkamp

The Democratic National Convention wraps up tonight with Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech. It ends two weeks of political conventions, both well-orchestrated, that went off without too many bumps in the road for the parties. The events of the last two weeks remind us that the primaries, caucuses and conventions are all about the political parties.

The parties control the rules, so the anti-Donald Trump movement didn’t last long on the floor of the GOP convention and Bernie Sanders’ supporters were defeated when they arrived in Philadelphia. So both conventions focused on unity and the next few weeks will reveal which party did the best job of bringing members together and winning over independents and members of the other party.

There were disappointed members in both the Democratic and Republican delegations from North Dakota. There were Ted Cruz supporters and Sanders faithful who would have liked to have seen more of a floor battle. However, neither side had enough votes.

Some Democrats are unhappy because the party allows super delegates, those holding office and party positions. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is a superdelegate, one of many who gave their support to Clinton, giving her the edge throughout the primary-caucus process. Heitkamp is the only Democrat holding a major elected-office in the state. As such, one would expect her to be held in high esteem in the party. That didn’t spare her criticism as some delegates favoring Sanders argued she shouldn’t have committed to Clinton so early, that she should have waited until the caucus before choosing a candidate. The majority of the North Dakota delegation favored Sanders.

In the end, Heitkamp didn’t cast a vote at the convention.

That’s sour grapes by the Sanders’ delegates. Many voters want to know who their congressional delegation and governor support throughout the process. North Dakotans were intrigued when Rep. Kevin Cramer came out in support of Trump and became an energy adviser to the candidate. They were interested in why he chose Trump and proud that a North Dakotan had become an insider with the leading presidential GOP candidate.

It was no surprise, even with their disagreements on energy policy, that Heitkamp came out in support of Clinton. The criticism Heitkamp received for her endorsement could be chalked up to a party involved in a lively debate. A debate, when over, could lead to a stronger party. That might be true on the national level, but it’s an iffy proposition in North Dakota. Heitkamp won a close Senate race against Rick Berg and if she seeks another term, will likely face another tough contest.

With that in mind, one would think it would be in the interest of state Democrats to do everything they can to improve Heitkamp’s chances. Unfortunately, the sniping is another sign of a party that has lost the ability to win elections. Heitkamp found a strategy that worked and Democrats should pay attention. North Dakota Democrats need all the help they can get and if the party does well in the national elections there could be some trickle-down benefits for them.

The next three months looks to be a fascinating time as the Trump-Clinton race unfolds.


Minot Daily News, Minot, July 27, 2016

Pride of Dakota should continue to grow

Stories abound these days about consumers’ desires for more local, more handmade, more authentic products, whether talking about food products or textiles or decorative items.

This is happening just a few decades after the convenience of mass production was favorable, when the idea of the same products being available anywhere was considered the great achievement of the marketplace. Bakers were replaced by supermarkets; and now bakers are coveted again. Tailors were replaced by department stores and now “handcrafted” means something again. Homes were adorned with items of personal importance, designers then crafted a sameness and now many want a motif expressing their identity and their environment again.

This new paradigm should be one that benefits the estimable Pride of Dakota. Since 1985, Pride of Dakota, a North Dakota Department of Agriculture program, has promoted and enhanced the marketing of North Dakota businesses, products and services. Pride of Dakota has a notable footprint here in Minot. Besides Pride of Dakota Day at the North Dakota State Fair this week, events elsewhere on the local calendar spotlight the program and it would be hard to imagine any newcomer to Minot not running into promotional material for and products labeled as Pride of Dakota. It is a model program in terms of marketing success and it seems those involved in the program feel it has done well by their businesses.

Pride of Dakota is nicely positioned to swell as this shift in consumer consciousness evolves. Good! The more participation the better.

Hopefully in years to come, more and more people in Minot will enjoy products made by near neighbors and other North Dakotans. Hopefully, this will then inspire people to share their skills in creating products for their near neighbors. Progress is largely good, but this kind of local and regional commerce seemed a real loss. Its return to desirability is terrific. Let’s see how Pride of Dakota can grow.


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