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Published October 10 2010

Forum editorial: Walaker’s support of Pomeroy significant

The political fallout from Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker’s endorsement of Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., for re-election to the U.S. House was predictable. It will have no impact, said supporters of Republican candidate Rick Berg. It’s very important for Pomeroy, his supporters said.

Pomeroy’s supporters have the better argument for several reasons.

First, Walaker’s popularity in Fargo is in the stratosphere because of his steady leadership in several successful flood fights. He tied his support for the congressman to the drive to secure permanent flood protection for the city. The mayor said the congressman has always been there for the city and the city needs him in Congress to help secure funding for the Fargo-Moorhead diversion project.

That’s a powerful argument.

Second, the mayor of Fargo chose not to endorse a veteran Fargo legislator. Berg, who has served Fargo’s District 45 in the North Dakota House for 26 years, could not get the backing of his own mayor. And not just any mayor. The popular mayor of the state’s largest city.

If there is a calculation behind the mayor’s decision (other than his sincere belief that Pomeroy can do more for Fargo than Berg), it could be the numbers from recent elections. Pomeroy has won handily in Cass County (Fargo has the lion’s share of votes) for the past few elections. Even in a close one in 2002, Pomeroy won by a comfortable margin.

Further breaking down Pomeroy’s success in Fargo reveals that he won Berg’s District 45 by huge margins in 2006 and 2008. In 2008, Berg was the only Republican left standing in 45, a district that had been solid Republican until the election of 2006.

Political history doesn’t always repeat itself. Given the anti-incumbent mood that seems to be sweeping the nation this year, old trends might be out the window. But Walaker brings a record of accomplishment and leadership to his political endorsements that cannot be discounted. In a close race – and the increasingly nasty tilt between Berg and Pomeroy is close – the support of the mayor of the state’s largest city could make the difference.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.