MINOT, N.D. — Recently while interviewing Kelly Armstrong, a state Senator from Dickinson and a Republican candidate for North Dakota's U.S. House seat, he told me that he doesn't believe a "blue wave" is coming to North Dakota. That's a term some commentators have used to describe the likelihood of Democratic gains this election year. You might expect a Republican like Armstrong to be dismissive, given where his interests lay, but there's data to support his conclusion.
North Dakota Democrats have decided to campaign against the income tax cuts our Republican-dominated Legislature implemented in successive sessions from 2009 onward. The individual income tax rate went from a 1.84 – 4.86 percent range to its current 1.10 – 2.90 percent. The argument from Democrats, now echoed in a recent editorial in the Grand Forks Herald , is that these tax reductions destabilized the state’s budget and made the state more dependent on tax revenues from the volatile oil and gas industry.
In my Sunday print column I mentioned something I want to expand on a bit here on the blog. “Even Heitkamp’s own campaign staff appears to be enjoying the tax reductions,” I wrote after noting that Senator Heidi Heitkamp voted against the Trump tax cuts. “Federal disclosure reports show several of her staffers enjoyed slight bumps in their pay after the tax reform’s passage in keeping with lower rates of tax withholding.” Here’s what I was writing about.
"The for sale sign is out," Whiting Petroleum Corp. CEO Brad Holly told the Denver Business Journal recently. "We're trying to sell all our properties in Colorado." That's a pretty big deal, because as it happens Whiting, founded in 1980, is actually headquartered in Colorado where it exists as the state's largest oil company. Why would a company like Whiting be abandoning the state it has called home for nearly four decades? Holly blamed the "regulatory environment" in Colorado, but added something important for North Dakotans to take note of.
MINOT, N.D. — Last week Senate incumbent Heidi Heitkamp's campaign rolled out her first video advertising of the election cycle. Like many observers, I was surprised to see that it was a rerun. An ad featuring Heitkamp and her family goofing on one another which the campaign used in 2012. Why would Heitkamp, at the beginning of what is perhaps the most important political campaign of her life, lead with regurgitated political messaging?
Over in Minnesota the opponents of Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement project have promised protests akin to what we here in North Dakota saw against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Since July of last year tracking polling from Morning Consult has shown a steady decline in Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s approval numbers. From July of last year through the end of March the number of North Dakotans saying they approve of Heitkamp went from 60 percent down to 47 percent while the number saying the disapprove climbed.
Should President Donald Trump win the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in bringing North and South Korea together for peace talks? My position is…maybe. I’d like to see what the outcome is before we go handing out awards. I think giving Trump the peace prize at this point is premature. Just as it was when Barack Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize for doing nothing more than beating John McCain in 2008. But a group of members of Congress have signed on to a letter backing Trump for the prize, among them North Dakota’s own Kevin Cramer:
It’s not exactly breaking news to say that President Donald Trump will be actively campaigning in North Dakota this year. He visited our state during his 2016 campaign. He visited last year to promote tax reform. Vice President Mike Pence has visited the state, and as colleague John Hageman reported last month , our state has been a popular destination for members of Trump’s cabinet.
The North Dakota Democrats have announced that this year’s speaker at their Governor’s Dinner will be Jodi Gillette, former Special Assistant for Native American Affairs to President Obama. It’s a curious choice, given what some view as Gillette’s role in exacerbating the often violent protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline. It’s worth noting that Gillette is sister to David Acrhambault who organized the #NoDAPL protests and was chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe at that time.