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Port: Bastiats pushing censure resolutions for ND Republicans who voted to expel Simons

Is there really a strong movement in Republican circles in our state to seek some perverted form of justice for Luke Simons? Who, again, was expelled after years of alleged harassment of the women he worked with in Bismarck?

Former Rep. Luke Simons addresses questions from The Press in a sit down interview Thursday morning, March 11, 2021, in Dickinson, after Simons publicly announced that he will not pursue legal action for his recent seat expulsion from the North Dakota House of Representatives. (Jackie Jahfetson/The Dickinson Press)
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MINOT, N.D. — Around the country, MAGA-aligned Republicans have been pushing censure motions in their local party committees for elected Republicans who had the integrity to vote to impeach and convict disgraced former President Donald Trump . Or, in other instances, to vote against the push to overturn the national election results.

Here in North Dakota, the Trumpy Bastiat Caucus is doing something similar.

In District 40, where the Bastiats managed to elect one of their own as district chair ( prompting one lawmaker from that district, Rep. Randy Schobinger, to cut off communications with him ), they also pushed for a censure resolution for House Majority Leader Chet Pollert .

His sin, in their eyes? The expulsion of former lawmaker Luke Simons over harassing behavior aimed at female members of legislative staff, the news media and even the House Republican caucus.

Similar resolutions have had more success in other legislative districts.


In District 6, which covers a large area circling Minot from the southeast to the northwest up to the Canadian border, both House members, Rep. Dick Anderson and Rep. Paul Thomas, were censured by the local Republican party over the expulsion of Simons.

In District 14, all of the elected lawmakers -- Sen. Jerry Klein , Rep. Jon Nelson , and Rep. Robin Weisz -- were censured in a resolution that mentioned the Simons expulsion as well as some other Bastiat-backed bills they didn't support.

Weisz, 1/6/21
Rep. Robin Weisz, R- Hurdsfield, chairman of the House Human Services Committee, (left) listened to testimony during a hearing on Wednesday, Jan. 6, at the North Dakota Capitol. Michelle Griffith / The Forum

Even in District 39, where Ben Simons, brother to Luke Simons, was ousted as chairman , a resolution was passed, narrowly, to censure Rep. Denton Zubke. Again, for the Simons expulsion, as well as alleged infidelity to the Bastiat-backed legislative agenda.

It's hard to know how much weight to give these censure motions. Bastiat-aligned activists would have us believe that they're the voice of true conservatism. The defenders of the party's platform, they claim. But are these censures of sitting Republican lawmakers, many with very long track records of electoral success, a sign of Bastiat political muscle?

The vote in March to expel Simons was 69-25, including 55 members of the majority Republican caucus. Assuming that the 25 votes against are an approximation of the Bastiat Caucus in the House, we can say that mainstream Republicans outnumber the Bastiats by a more than a 2-1 margin.

Is there really a strong movement in Republican circles in our state to seek some perverted form of justice for Luke Simons? Who, again, was expelled after years of alleged harassment of the women he worked with in Bismarck ?


Or are these resolutions the product of the way local party business is done?

Remember, local party events, particularly in the more rural parts of the state, are usually attended by just a few dozen people. It doesn't take much to influence outcomes there.

It's the sort of process where a movement like the Bastiats, who are few in number but highly motivated, can have a great deal of influence. Ironically, given the oft-expressed disdain Bastiats have for "insiders" and the "political elite," it is the more egalitarian political processes where they typically fail.

Bastiats do great in local party meetings and conventions. In primary votes and elections that are open to a broader swath of the public, they do far worse. One could almost argue that the Bastiat movement is fundamentally elitist.

But I digress.

It is repugnant that the Bastiats have chosen Luke Simons to champion, but that's sadly in character for Trumpists who will seemingly cling to any political figure, however revolting, as long as they're aligned with Trump.

To comment on this article, visit www.sayanythingblog.com

Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at rport@forumcomm.com .

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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