Video clip of ND Ag Commisioner Roger Johnson
at the DNC Convention in Denver in August 2008
North Dakota's partisan Republicans should be celebrating in the streets today. Soon they'll be handed the only partisan-race office currently held by a Democratic-NPLer in North Dkaota. North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson was elected as the president of the National Farmers Union organization today and will resign his office as ND Ag Commissioner soon.
Gov. John Hoeven will name a successor to fill out the remaining two years on Johnson’s term.
Hoeven is expected to pick a fellow Republican. The appointee would be the first Republican in the office in 20 years. Democrat Sarah Vogel served two terms before Johnson. Another Democrat. Republican Kent Jones served from 1981 to 1988.
Ron Rauschenberger, Hoeven’s chief of staff, said the governor has not set a timeline for deciding on Johnson’s successor. He said half a dozen people have expressed interest in the job, including Lance Gaebe, Hoeven’s deputy chief of staff and agriculture policy adviser, and Doug Goehring, who twice was defeated by Johnson.
I assume it will be Goehring. Gaebe, a nice enough guy, has never run for office (has he?), probably doesn't have the kind of background needed for the job and has never been in charge of a statewide political campaign, to my knowledge. Goehring ran a couple close races against Johnson, despite the controversy surrounding his role in scandals at the Nodak Mutual insurance. (Click here and click here for more on that.) Goehring would likely continue to have the ultra-conservative Farm Bureau behind him. But our lazy, inneffective press barely followed or understood the Goehring-Nodak-Poolman story when it was happening, and nobody in North Dakota's media was smart enough to understand it even after I dumbed it down and spoon-fed it to them.
It will be interesting to see which political hack Hoeven puts into this position. And it'll be interesting to watch the Republicans and their mouthpieces at their official newspaper, the Bismarck Tribune, go after Johnson for leaving in a way they will continue to ignorantly characterize as being "similar" to Jim Poolman's departure. But that's okay. An ineffective, disinformational, lazy media isn't quite so bad once you get used to it.