Democratic-NPL candidates rally supporters, explain positions at event in Dickinson
Candidates highlighted a focus to build an economy that works for all, provide adequately funded, high-quality public services and to strengthen communities by creating a place to achieve "the American dream."
DICKINSON — While the Democrats have not won a statewide election in North Dakota since Heidi Heitkamp defeated Rick Berg for U.S. Senate in 2012, the Democratic-NPL Party remains an active option for many in the state.
On Aug. 26, candidates and supporters of the Democratic-NPL held a campaign event for party members at Players Sports Bar & Grill in Dickinson, at which they explained positions and encouraged the continued grassroots activism needed for change.
“We've had great crowds all over North Dakota... We're having some wonderful turnouts and it's been very heartwarming,” Democrat House candidate Mark Haugen said to attendees in Dickinson.
Democrat NPL nominee for U.S. Senate Katrina Christiansen, an assistant professor of engineering in her native city at the University of Jamestown, addressed the gathered by saying that she is excited to have conservative former state lawmaker and Bismarck plastic surgeon Rick Becker rebelling against the GOP by running for Senate. Becker ran despite a prior promise to stay out of the race if he didn’t win the nomination.
“I think that there's a very good chance that he will take about 30 to 40% of the vote here in North Dakota. Now, Rob Port is probably delusional in thinking that he won't,” she said.
While driving through rural Barnes County near Jamestown, Christiansen said she noticed a Becker sign, but noted that she didn't see Hoeven signs. She chastised incumbent Sen. John Hoeven for voting against the American Rescue Plan Act, Inflation Reduction Act and CHIPS Plus Act.
“We've been manufacturing insulin for almost, I think 75 years. And it's incredibly ridiculous that pharmaceutical companies can charge up to $6,000 or $12,000 a year depending on your insurance. So he hasn't voted to help you afford your health care,” she said, referring to the Inflation Reduction Act.
She further clarified her criticism of his vote against the chips legislation.
“Currently, 90% of the chips that are in your phone, that are in our military technology devices, that are in cars; are manufactured in Taiwan. It is a national security risk that we don't manufacture the semiconductors here. It is an issue for inflation and our supply chain,” Christiansen said. “That's the most egregious, right, because he claims to be a Republican who supports developing the economy.”
In a press release, Hoeven justified his vote by citing concerns about the rapidly rising national debt.
Christiansen said that if she were elected that one of her top priorities would be mental healthcare and reversing the “desertification of services across the state.”
“There are 24 counties in North Dakota that do not have mental health professionals. Nine of them only have one,” she said, noting concerns she has as a North Dakota mom. “There are counselors that don't see people under the age of 13. There’s a need there. You can be on a waiting list to see somebody in Fargo for six months.”
Emergency services “barely staying afloat’
Mark Haugen, Democrat-NPL nominee for North Dakota’s lone Congressional seat, will be running against Republican incumbent and Dickinson native Rep. Kelly Armstrong.
Haugen, who was also the party’s nominee for State Treasurer in 2020, previously lost to Republican Thomas Beadle and acknowledged that he and Armstrong face a long shot independent challenger in Cara Mund.
Haugen has spent the past 36 years working in emergency services in the state and is the President of the ND EMS Foundation and a student success advisor at the University of Mary in Bismarck. He argued that emergency healthcare providers and the residents they serve need more taxpayer support to properly function. He praised energy companies such as Marathon Oil and Continental Resources for supporting his foundation.
“They realize they have these workers in some of the most remote areas of the state who need access to healthcare. Their closest access to healthcare is an ambulance service that’s just trying to stay afloat in some of these communities because you don’t have the tax infrastructure that you once had,” Haugen said.
He pointed to a proposed mill levy increase that was rejected by voters in the Killdeer Ambulance District on August 9 as an example of what he perceives as the service not receiving proper support.
‘Dissent is patriotism’
Trygve Hammer, who is running against Republican Sheri Haugen-Hoffart for the position of North Dakota Public Service Service Commissioner, is a combat veteran who served his country as a U.S. Navy nuclear power machinist mate and U.S. Naval Academy leadership instructor. Hammer served in support of combat operations during Operation Iraqi Freedom during the Global War on Terror, serving in the capacity of a infantry weapons platoon commander and battalion forward air controller for 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marines.
In reference to the Fargo School Board’s Pledge of Allegiance controversy, Hammer scoffed at Gov. Burgum’s push for legislation that would guarantee elected officials and public school students an opportunity to recite the Pledge in meetings or at the beginning of a school day, expressing admiration for those who made a conscious decision to remain seated.
“When you have that Jehovah’s Witness kid in your classroom who sits during the Pledge, they are arguably being more patriotic than their friends who are up with their hands over their hearts,” he said. “Because you know, those kids aren’t like, all being filled with patriotic feelings. I did used to get that feeling when I wrestled in ‘98. The National Anthem would get me fired up. But that was very immature.”
Hammer explained the history of First Amendment jurisprudence involving compulsory recitation of the Pledge, and how Jehovah’s Witnesses were sometimes violently persecuted for their beliefs in retaliation. He noted Minersville School District vs. Gobitis in 1940, and how the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the school. Three years later, in West Virginia State Board of Education vs. Barnette, the Witnesses won with the majority citing constitutionally protected religious liberties.
‘Dogma over credibility’
Jeffrey Powell, who is running for Secretary of State against Republican state Rep. Michael Howe of Casselton, is seeking to hold the office directly responsible for overseeing the keeping of public records, issuance of business licenses and management of elections among other duties.
Powell chided the current leaders of the GOP as placing philosophical rhetoric over trustworthiness.
“The Republican Party has become a place where dogma is more important than credibility,” he said.
Powell, who is the director of student life at Mayville State University, denounced his opponent as a “career politician,” adding that Republicans across the country are actively engaging in voter suppression.
“I'm worried about voting rights. I want to make sure that we have a good, successful office where our records are kept. I want to make sure that people have the opportunity to interact with the government the way they need to,” Powell said. “I want to make sure that we're tracking what's going on in our state legislature, and that the website is good, reliable and useful."
Powell emphatically added, "I'm ready to do this.”
For more information on the Democratic-NPL party, its platform, upcoming events and other resources, visit demnpl.com.