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Patrick Springer, Published March 27 2014

'Team North Dakota' reuniting at Democratic-NPL convention in Fargo

FARGO – The travel schedules aren’t as demanding, and they have more time to spend with their families. But all three members of “Team North Dakota” remain involved in public policy advocacy in Washington.

The trio that long represented North Dakota in Congress – Byron Dorgan, Kent Conrad and Earl Pomeroy – will reunite and take to the stage in Fargo to give a lift to Democratic candidates when party faithful gather for their convention that starts Friday at the Fargo Civic Center.

All longtime friends, the three remain based in Washington, but they don’t see each other as regularly since their duties and interests take them in different directions:

E Dorgan – who spent 30 years in Congress, first in the House, then in the Senate until retiring in 2011 – is considering writing a fifth book. He divides his time serving on several boards of directors, teaching, advocating for young American Indians and as a lobbyist and consultant for a Washington law firm, Arent Fox.

E Conrad, who retired from the Senate in 2013 after serving for 26 years, a budget deficit hawk, serves on the steering committee for the Campaign to Fix the Debt, a nonpartisan effort. Conrad also serves on the board of directors of Genworth Financial Inc., which sells life insurance and mortgage guarantees.

E Pomeroy, a former state insurance commissioner who served in the House from 1993 to 2011, after he was unseated by Republican Rick Berg, works as a lobbyist and consultant for Alston & Bird. Pomeroy focuses on health care, employee benefits, tax policy, energy and agriculture. (Berg ran in 2012 for Conrad’s open Senate seat, losing to Democrat Heidi Heitkamp.)

“We don’t see each other as often as we’d like,” Pomeroy said. “It’s like a family reunion to get together with them. We’re all pretty happy with our new chapters.”

Pomeroy said his work representing clients of Alston & Bird aligns with positions he took as a member of Congress. Given his 18 years of experience, knowing the intricacies of the legislative process, he can advise clients on strategy.

“In that way I’m still fighting for what I believe is positive public policy,” Pomeroy said.

Instead of flying back to North Dakota every weekend, as he did during his 18 years in the House, Pomeroy gets back every two weeks, dividing his time between Bismarck-Mandan, where his son is a senior in high school, and Grand Forks. His wife has children and grandchildren.

“North Dakota’s home, the work’s in Washington, just like before,” he said. “I still work plenty hard, but there’s more time with family.”

Dorgan also returns to North Dakota, where he has family, but no longer maintains a residence in Bismarck, where he still owns an apartment building.

He’ll be on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in a couple of weeks for the dedication of a new youth center, and will be at an economic development conference in Grand Forks.

“I do a fair amount of traveling,” Dorgan said, adding that he had just returned from a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. He serves on the boards of a couple of start-up companies, including one in California, and serves on the board of Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago.

“I’m just doing a lot of things,” Dorgan said. “I’m enjoying it immensely.”

He has time for leisure travel and golf. Recently, Dorgan and his wife joined Conrad and his wife on a vacation.

“We’ve been friends for many decades,” Dorgan said. “We stay close.”

Conrad was traveling and couldn’t be reached. Besides his corporate board and public policy work, Conrad has taken up playing basketball for the first time in many years, Pomeroy said.

“He’s really enjoying it,” Pomeroy said, adding that Conrad remains an avid fan of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team.

Dorgan and Pomeroy both said they felt privileged to have represented North Dakota in Congress.

“I wouldn’t have traded any of it,” Dorgan said. Pomeroy said, “We just felt blessed, each of us, that North Dakota voters gave us opportunities for leadership.”

He added: “The ‘Three Amigos’ are pretty happy” in political retirement. Now, Pomeroy said, it’s time for a new generation of leaders.

Besides speaking at the convention Saturday, the trio will take part in a fundraising luncheon for candidates.

Most of the convention events are at the downtown Fargo Civic Center. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., will give the keynote address Saturday.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522