News today that Dist-23 Rep Joan Heckamann is joining the race for lieutenant governor! Combined with Rolla’s Marvin Nelson for Governor, it’s nice to see a ticket that represents the North Dakota outside of Bismarck and Fargo, and quite fitting for the centennial year of the agrarian-populist Non-Partisan League.
I did what I could to prompt the Dem-NPL leadership to note the centennial of the Non-Partisan League. Clearly, last year’s festivities weren’t enough for Lloyd Omdahl, but this year is chugging along with a celebratory dinner or movie showing here or there. It’s not the rip-roaring “we’re back” I was hoping for, but the NPL brand isn’t going anywhere, it’s part and parcel of the Progressive experience in North Dakota.
It would be nice, for example, if the state law mandating political parties to terminate their legal name with “Party” — something that was not the League’s idea to be sure — was rolled back. But right now, it’s kind of a weasels-guarding-the-chicken-coop situation on that.
And among other things, NorthDecoder.com is back online. I might as well blog again a little bit too.
While the NDP can take a lot of credit for progress on infrastructure, at least one major project, the third bipole, was subject to overly protracted debate, and rerouted at considerable cost, as the government struggled to balance its constituencies of clean energy and respect for aboriginal land rights.
Infrastructure was the main excuse NDP leader Greg Selinger used to raise the PST 1%, returning the overall sales tax in Manitoba to 13%, without a vote, as was previously required by law. Changing the law to remove the plebiscite at the same time as you raise those taxes, is, at best, bad public policy. It has proven to be the central flamethrower Brian Pallister’s Progressive Conservatives have used in the runup to the campaign, and even cracked the unity of the NDP themselves, with a backbench revolt lead by Theresa Oswald.
Selinger narrowly avoided defeat in a major shakeup that required a leadership race to settle, and even then, it left the party looking fractured, with a governing core plagued with patronage. The lack of turnover also prevented the party from presenting a fresh face to the province going into the hustings. The NDP still has some star candidates, like former CBC broadcaster Wab Kinew, that generate excitement in core constituencies.
There’s still the X-factor of the provincial Liberal Party. It’s been little more than a bit player in Manitoba for decades, but the recent surprise victory of Justin Trudeau’s federal Liberals has generated momentum to send the MLP above the NDP in some recent polls. Rana Bokhari is a definite dark horse to be the next premier, but will certainly spoil what little the NDP planned to hold onto.