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Published March 16 2012

‘Cowboy’ Taylor pledges courage if elected governor

GRAND FORKS – Ryan Taylor vows to be the people’s governor and to have “the courage to stand up and speak out for real North Dakota people” if he wins the election for the state’s highest office in November.

The Senate minority leader from Towner officially received the Democratic-NPL endorsement for the office Friday during the party’s state convention.

Wearing his trademark cowboy hat and surrounded by his wife, Nikki, and their three young children, Taylor arrived to accept his endorsement as country singer Brad Paisley’s “Welcome to the Future” played in the background.

“‘The people’s governor’ isn’t just some pairing of words,” Taylor said. “It’s a testament to who I am and how I lead.”

Former North Dakota first lady Grace Link said Taylor is committed to growing a strong economy and maintaining a good business environment in the state. She said he brings a lifetime of knowledge about agriculture and knows the preservation of the family farm is central to the success of agriculture and North Dakota.

Assistant Senate Minority Leader Mac Schneider of Grand Forks said Taylor stands up for the things that matter to North Dakota families.

“The people of North Dakota know a leader when they see one,” Schneider said. “Ryan Taylor is a leader, and Ryan Taylor is going to be North Dakota’s next governor.”

Taylor emphasized the need to improve North Dakota’s quality of life and to invest in the next generation through a scholarship program. He also pushed for the need to invest in children’s programs such as Head Start and health insurance.

Taylor said he’s been accused of being against the activity in the Bakken oil field.

“This is not about the false notion that oil extraction is either all on or all off,” Taylor said. “It’s about understanding the cost and being the one brave enough to stand up on the Industrial Commission and ask the hard questions about ensuring our future quality of life.”

Taylor criticized Gov. Jack Dalrymple for having time to meet with oil company executives but not having time to meet with locked-out American Crystal Sugar workers.

Dalrymple and Paul Sorum of Fargo are seeking the Republican endorsement for governor. The Republican convention is later this month.

Taylor peppered digs at the Republican Party throughout his speech. He quipped that people don’t just wake up one day and decide to become governor unless they’re the lieutenant governor and the governor heads to Washington to be a senator.

He said he’s been asked why North Dakotans should “fire” Dalrymple. Taylor said his response is that Dalrymple can’t be fired because he’s yet to be hired – that is, elected – for the job.

For 20 years, state government has been ruled by closely connected, wealthy individuals, Taylor said. He pointed to a headline that referred to Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm as “The Man Who Bought North Dakota” and to a $20,000 campaign contribution that Hamm made to Dalrymple.

Finneman is a multimedia reporter for Forum Communications Co.

“As governor, I’ll have the courage to stand up and say, ‘You know what? North Dakota’s not for sale,’” Taylor said to a standing ovation. “We will not sell out our quality of life for campaign contributions.”

Taylor referred to the quote “that damn cowboy is president of the United States” when Theodore Roosevelt took office. He said it would be fun if the “political powerbrokers” in North Dakota wake up on Nov. 7 and say “that damn cowboy is governor of North Dakota.”

Finneman is a multimedia reporter for Forum Communications Co.

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