Plain Talk With Rob Port

Plain Talk is a podcast hosted by blogger and columnist Rob Port focusing on political news and current events in North Dakota. Host Rob Port writes, North Dakota’s most popular and influential political blog.

All Episodes

230: Democrats can't win, and Republicans can't get along

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The world of North Dakota politics, in the current moment, is one in which Republicans can't get along, and Democrats can't win. A faction of the North Dakota Republican Party, deeply aligned with former President Donald Trump, has launched a largely unsuccessful campaign to take over the state party. Yet though they've fallen short, their actions at local district meetings, including censuring sitting Republican lawmakers, have roiled the NDGOP. Meanwhile, the North Dakota Democratic-NPL has chosen more leadership for a party that hasn't won much of anything for going on three decades. Can the NDGOP's political dominance survive this fraught and divisive moment? Can the Democratic-NPL overcome the toxicity of its brand to take advantage of Republican infighting? Chad Oban, a former executive director of the Democratic-NPL, joins this episode of Plain Talk to discuss.

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229: Should ND invest the Legacy Fund in a theme park?

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Should the State of North Dakota invest Legacy Fund dollars in a theme park venture in Jamestown?

The proponents of the Buffalo City Park want the State Investment Board to approve a $60 million investment for the proposal.

Lt. Governor Brent Sanford chairs the State Investment Board, and he joins this episode of Plain Talk Live to discuss the amusement park proposal as well as new legislation directing more Legacy Fund investments into North Dakota projects and startups.

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Jay Thomas Show 05-10-21

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Rob and Jay talk about the impact of expanded unemployment benefits on our economy. People aren't going back to work, and why would they when they can make the equivalent of $15.00 per hour staying at home?

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228: Teacher canceled for classroom discussion about George Floyd

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Is recreational marijuana inevitable in North Dakota? The Biden administration announced a loan forgiveness program for farmers, but not white farmers. Is that fair? A Wahpeton school teacher has been suspended after a classroom discussion about George Floyd and the Derek Chauvin trial outraged students (or, perhaps more accurately, their parents). Rob Port and Jay Thomas, talk radio host for WDAY AM970 in Fargo, discuss these topics and others.

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227: How can rail safety be controvesial?

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Rail shipments are hugely important to North Dakota's economy. Framers and ranchers depend on the railroad infrastructure to bring their crops and livestock to market. The state's manufacturers receive shipments of raw materials, and send out finished products, by rail. The energy industry, too, depends on rail.

The fraught political debate over pipeline infrastructure has often squeezed the capacity available for North Dakota's oil fields. Rail is a flexible, if not optimal, way to get petroleum to market. Given this importance, shouldn't rail safety be paramount for North Dakota's leaders?

After a few firey and explosive derailments of oil-by-rail shipments created a new narrative for anti-oil activists to pounce on, Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak, a Republican, sought funding from the Legislature to begin a state-run rail inspection program.

The federal bureaucracy is typically in charge of that, but their coverage leaves much to be desired. State inspectors help them cover more rail. But some of North Dakota's lawmakers, even as they've funded the rail inspection program, have been hostile to it.

Some of them would rather leave it to the federal government. Others resent the modest cost, which currently stands at just $600,000 for the two-year budget cycle. Every time the program is funded, a sunset provision is put in.

Fedorchak joins this episode of Plain Talk to talk about the success of the rail inspection program, and the fight to keep it funded.

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About the Podcast

Plain Talk is a podcast hosted by blogger and columnist Rob Port focusing on political news and current events in North Dakota. Host Rob Port writes, North Dakota’s most popular and influential political blog, and is a columnist for the Forum News Service published in papers including the Fargo Forum, Grand Forks Herald, Jamestown Sun, Minot Daily News, and the Dickinson Press.

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Rob Port, founder of, a North Dakota political blog, is a Forum Communications commentator.