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Published November 04 2010

Forum editorial: Red tide sweeps across ND

The impressive Republican red wave in Tuesday’s election all but obliterated the few streaks of blue on North Dakota’s political landscape. Republican incumbents and challengers overwhelmed Democrats in legislative races. Every partisan statewide office is firmly held by Republicans. The only office in the state Capitol held by a Democrat is the allegedly

no-party superintendent of public instruction.

The red wave was tsunami-like as it swept nine-term Democratic U.S. Congressman Earl Pomeroy out of office. Running his first statewide campaign, Fargo state Rep. Rick Berg rode the Republican crest to an impressive win. His margin of victory was similar to Pomeroy’s nine election wins. The reversal – the first time in nearly 50 years North Dakotans ousted an incumbent congressman – was historic.

For Pomeroy, the results were a clear indication that North Dakotans share the frustration and anger Americans feel about Washington. Berg’s campaign linked Pomeroy to the policies of President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The congressman could not shake the perception that he was too close to House leadership. He could not recover from his vote in favor of the wildly unpopular health care reform bill.

As Berg savors Tuesday night’s vote totals, he has another reason to celebrate. He will be sworn in as a member of the majority in the upcoming session of the U.S. House of Representatives. The House flipped Tuesday night, giving Republicans a solid majority and propelling Rep. John Boehner of Ohio into the speaker’s chair. Those circumstances could bode well for Berg and for North Dakota’s interests.

No matter how they spin it, North Dakota Democrats are at low ebb – arguably the lowest in recent history. The Legislature effectively is a one-party (Republican) assembly. Democrats did not even field legislative candidates in several districts. The governor’s office is firmly in Republican hands. The congressional delegation, which was all Democratic for more than 20 years, now only counts Sen. Kent Conrad as the only Democrat among the three.

North Dakota Democrats have a lot of soul-searching and regrouping to do. Two years from now the political ground might shift again. But for today, the Democrats’ political boat is foundering in a tide of Republican red.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum

management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.