Bender: After the dust has settled

Tony Bender

After the election, some pundits declared the Democratic Party dead in North Dakota. Well, it just so happens that the Dems are only mostly dead. There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. My evidence? Republican kingpin Al Carlson lost. The good news is he can now reprise his role as Bill The Butcher in the off-Broadway production of Gangs of New York.

I'll tell you who they can't kill, though—Al Jaeger. When state Republicans foreclosed on Tom Campbell's congressional aspirations in a hemp-smoke-filled room, he stayed dead—the man has more baggage than Samsonite. Jaeger, though, is like The Walking Dead. His tie still has tire tracks from the bus that smushed him at the convention.

Jaeger's the Energizer Bunny. Without the energy. If he ever gives a halftime pep talk they'll need smelling salts to revive everyone. It'll be fine until he gets to the part about teaching Knute Rockne the forward pass. At that point everyone will drift off, trying to remember if Knute Rockne is the one who really discovered America.

His next opponent may have to debate him with a mallet and a wooden stake. By then he'll be 114, and his campaign slogan will either be “I'm Still Breathing” or “The Website Is Just About Ready.” Anyone tracking Heidi Heitkamp's thumping knows that the state website was down more often than Rocky against Ivan Drago. Demolition derbies have fewer crashes. Even Republicans had to swallow their pride and get updates from the New York Times website.

Heitkamp's loss was a disaster for Democrats and conservative radio stalkers alike. What will they talk about now? Desperately grasping at straws, Scott Hennen whined on Facebook that Heidi had not yet called to congratulate Kevin Cramer. Someone retorted, “Do you call to congratulate every radio station in the area that kicks your %¢*#* every ratings cycle?”

Meanwhile, the recreational marijuana measure went up in smoke, proving once again that North Dakotans remain stalwart opponents of any recreation that doesn't involve shooting something. Hey, North Dakota, Utah called. They said, “Loosen up.” In a disarmingly cheerful and mellow but rambling concession speech, Mary Jane thanked “...Keebler, Domino's and everyone at Pink Floyd for all your support.”

The bipartisan Ethics Bill, branded a witch hunt by some Republicans, passed. They're against any word that starts with “bi” except Bible and Big Oil—and not necessarily in that order. The latter unselfishly defended the First Amendment and some of the other ones, warning that this measure is a death knell for a free press. Also the sky is falling. That backfired. It turns out lots of people want to muzzle journalists.

Hours after Measure 1 passed, Jim Acosta had his press credentials revoked. Making Press Conferences Great Again.

Measure 2 passed. It extra-double-super-bans non-citizens—especially caravans—from voting in North Dakota. It was a dog-whistle from former state Republican Party Chairman Gary Emineth to turn out bigots, who have been increasingly marginalized in these snowflakey, witch-hunty times.

As a candidate, Emineth had a hard time deciding which race to lose this year. He finally chose defeat at the hands of Sen. Erin Oban. Ironically, despite his efforts to defend the integrity of the electoral process, it's unclear if Emineth and his wife's ballots will actually be counted. They were among some absentee ballots suspended by the Burleigh County Auditor's office. Auditors say such ballots are usually suspended because the signature on the application doesn't match the one on the return envelope as required by law. I guess they're just defending the integrity of the electoral process.