Dalrymple Picks Fedorchak As New Member Of The Public Service Commission

Fedorchak PSC Announcement

Yesterday I wrote about rumors swirling that Governor Jack Dalrymple would pick Hoeven staffer Julie Liffrig Fedorchak to replace Kevin Cramer on the PSC. State Rep. Blair Thoreson, who had run for the PSC in the 2012 cycle, had been the favorite but rumors from credible sources indicated that Fedorchak was the likely pick.

Today Governor Dalrymple confirmed the rumors and announced Fedorchak as his pick. I have to admit that I’m a bit chagrined at the decision.

For one thing, Fedorchak has very little in the way of policy experience. She’s a media and communications expert who has long worked for Hoeven sending out press releases and writing speeches, whereas Thoreson has spent years in the legislature, serving on key committees and has worked extensively in some of the industries the PSC regulates.

For another, after Thoreson conceded his bid for the PSC at the NDGOP convention I stood on the floor and listened as Republican after Republican came up to him and said that his gracious acquiescence to nominee Randy Christmann (who was elected to the PSC earlier this month) was noticed, and would be to his credit in the future. The NDGOP’s statewide convention was a contentious one this year, and party leaders spoke often of wanting unity.

But you have to wonder where that unity is in someone like Thoreson, from the conservative wing of the state party, getting passed over for an appointment he not only wanted but was eminently qualified for in favor of a loyalist from Hoeven/Dalrymple’s inner circle.

With this pick we see where Dalrymple’s priorities lay, and they’re not with party unity or even “the best person for the job.” Fedorchak, by all accounts, is a very nice person but she simply doesn’t have Thoreson’s resume for this job.

Update: Dalrymple’s press release is below. Also, a reader emails, “I wager that political/campaign considerations gave Julie the edge over Blair. Republicans are always looking for a young, attractive woman to put on the ballot, with good political reasons. It helps the statewide ticket.”

No doubt that was a part of the calculation, though that sort of identity politics stinks. The choice should be based on policy and experience, not gender and looks. But Republicans, specifically Hoeven, have taken some heat for not appointment enough women from groups like North Dakota Women’s Network which produced a report asking, “Where Are The Women.”

Update: Blair Thoreson emailed me this statement on the pick: “I respect the decision of Gov. Dalrymple and congratulate Julie on her appointment for this important position. I wish her great success in her new role.”

Dalrymple Announces Fedorchak for PSC

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • Flyby_Knight

    Someone from the Hoeven regime is engaging in patronage appointments? I’m shocked. Shocked, I tell you.

    • Rick Olson

      Well, the governor of North Dakota has virtual carte blanche when it comes to making appointments. He can appoint anyone he wants to.

      In North Dakota, none of a governor’s appointees is subject to confirmation proceedings in the state Senate.

      The only exception is that governor’s appointments to the state Board of Higher Education are subject to state Senate confirmation proceedings.

      • VocalYokel

        “…appointments to the state Board of Higher Education are subject to state Senate confirmation proceedings.”

        And we can see how well that worked.

        • Rick Olson

          Even if all gubernatorial appointees had to face confirmation proceedings in the state Senate, it really wouldn’t make a difference. The Senate would just rubber stamp whoever the governor wants … given the Republican supermajority in the Legislature.

          I think the reason why most appointments by a governor don’t have to be confirmed by the Senate is because the Legislature only is in session every other year.

          If the Legislature was in session every year instead of every other year, I kind of think most of a governor’s appointees would have to go through Senate confirmation proceedings.

  • RCND

    Blair got screwed. Plain and simple. Dalrymple made a bad selection to appease the guy and the wing of the party which got him first appointed Governor and then elected. The good of the PSC and the state had zero bearing on this call.

    She will also probably lose in 2014. Her lack of a background (unless she relegates herself to the role of public relations officer for the PSC) cannot be made up in 2 years to make her competitive. I personally hope Blair challenges her for the nomination

    • Rick Olson

      I agree, it was totally unfair of Governor Dalrymple to pass over Blair Thoreson. Indeed, Blair has the background and credentials where he could have stepped right into the PSC job.

      However, as a point of clarification, Dalrymple was not appointed to the governorship. As lieutenant governor under John Hoeven, he automatically ascended to the governorship immediately upon the resignation of then-Gov. John Hoeven. Hoeven had just been elected to the U.S. Senate and resigned as governor in order for him to take his seat in the Senate in Washington, D.C. Under the gubernatorial succession provisions of the North Dakota Constitution — in the event that the office of governor becomes vacant for any reason (including the death, resignation or impeachment of the governor), then the lieutenant governor automatically succeeds the governor; and then the governor gets to pick his own person to fill the lieutenant governor position. Dalrymple served for two years and was just elected outright to his own four year term as governor.

      • RCND

        I get that… I should have worded it in a way that said he owes his governorship all to Hoeven because he picked him as a running mate, and thus ascended with the vacancy for two years without the benefit of an election

  • yy4u2

    Ah, the spoils of the office. Where’s my smoking jacket? I must relax before some serfs howl about this. Repubs will never get the conservative message out with douches like this at the helm at the state and federal levels. It works for Dems because they know nothing more than govt. intervention.

  • Carter Wood

    This dismissal of Julie Fedorchak’s experience shows a lack of knowledge of how state government really works. She served for six years as Gov. Schafer’s communications director, a position that requires familiarity with EVERY policy issue that confronts an administration. It also involved frequent interaction with lawmakers and statewide elected officials. (I speak from experience, having worked with her in the governor’s office.)

    And, she’s a loyal — and conservative — Republican who’s put in many hours for the party, more for than most.

    I can’t speak to her work for Sen. Hoeven, but the Senator has made energy policy a priority and she’s supported his efforts in North Dakota. Great experience for the PSC.

    Plus, isn’t a background in communications of some value in running a statewide campaign?

    Blair would have been great, but Julie will be great, too.

    • RCND

      So why is she a better selection than Blair?

      • http://2wheels2lanes1camera.blogspot.com/ Ryderwriter

        Only Dalrymple and friends can answer that. As we sit on the outside, we can only speculate. Carter is right on. Both Blair and Julie are very well qualified. No matter who was chosen, it was a winning choice for each North Dakotan. No one will be excluded from the deliberations of the PSC with either Julie or Blair. But why Julie? Only Jack knows.

        • camsaure

          “only Jack knows”, you mean only Jack the RINO knows.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      I’m not sure I agree at all that writing press releases and speeches about policy issues is the same as, you know, actually working in the industry and making policy.

      But how about this: Blair ran for the PSC nomination, and was gracious in defeat at the convention, and made it clear he wanted this appointment. He got passed over because of political patronage.

      It stinks, Carter, sorry.

      • Carter Wood

        Legislators have the advantage in policy experience, no doubt; by definition they’re policymakers. But don’t underestimate the value of working as a senior staff member in a small governor’s office.

        Blair is definitely a class act and his time will come.

        • RCND

          Your tap dancing. What makes Julie a better pick than Blair for the PSC and our state?

          • Carter

            I’m not tap dancing. I’m saying Julie is eminently qualified and it’s Gov. Dalrymple’s decision to make. No one has a claim on the office.

          • RCND

            So what makes her eminently more qualified than Blair, and therefore a better pick by the Governor? Give specifics please.

          • Carter Wood

            Criminy, can’t you make critical distinctions? Julie’s eminently qualified. Blair’s eminently qualified. Gov. Dalrymple made a choice. Stop your whining and work for the party, then maybe you can have influence on these decisions.

          • RCND

            If you can’t point out why she is a better choice just say so. And I am not a party person, I am a conservative. There are too many RINOs in the party you reference, and they all just want everyone to blindly go along in unison like they are part of a remake of Pink Floyd The Wall. It is also a party that fears healthy discourse from within, which you obviously seem to as well. There is absolutely nothing wrong with raising these questions, because having the discussion will only make that party you reference stronger. Right now, that is something they really need

          • Carter Wood

            A conservative critique is valuable, and thank you for it. But unless one actually works — say, with the Republican party and for GOP candidates — the critique is just words, or pixels. Both Julie and Blair have put really effort in achieving conservative goals in North Dakota.

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            But Blair participated in the process. He went to the convention. He conceded when beaten. He played by all the rules the establishment tells you we have to play by. His reward was being passed over for someone more on the inside. A patronage pick.

            However great Fedorchak may be – and people I trust say she’s great – that doesn’t absolve this treatment of Blair.

          • Carter

            Agreed. Definitely a point in Blair’s favor. But ultimately it’s the governor’s decision to make.

  • RCND

    “The choice should be based on policy and experience, not gender and looks”

    If the genders had been reversed, and a more photogenic male been picked over a less photogenic female, there would have been hell to pay from the left

    • Rick Olson

      I hope it didn’t come down to what you said. Looks over experience. Politics is such a weird thing at times.

  • ND Observer

    Good for the PSC and good for ND with the choice of Julie Liffrig Fedorchak. She has been in the trenches for years, dealing with both policy and communications. You cannot do communications effectively without understanding policy. She is a hard worker, will pay attention to detail, and has a independent mind.

    Blair Thoreson ran a good campaign for the PSC endorsement and was a class act at the convention. His trouble is that he has been nothing but a yes man and lap dog for Rep. Al Carlson. He has shown no independence or critical thinking. He has just been a loyal follower. We do not know if he has good judgement, because he has always let others think for him. I like Blair, but would like him to grow a pair in the house.

    I have seen Julie assert her independence, and she has made independent decisions. She will much harder at PSC issues than Brian Kalk. She will pay attention.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Blair is by far one of the most conservative members of the state legislature. If he’d “grow a pair” as you wanted, in which I think you mean opposing some of the big-spending agenda that has dominated the state for more than a decade now, it would have made him even less likely to get appointed by Dalrymple.

      • ND Observer

        By grow a pair, I mean Blair was nearly worthless in a legislative conference committee because he does not offer solutions, or negotiate, or use judgement. He would run back to leadership to see what he should do. That is not an effective legislator or policy maker, no matter how conservative they are. Who would be run to to find out what he was supposed to do on the PSC?

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          That’s neither accurate not fair.

    • Carter Wood

      Geez, knock it off with the invidiousness. You’re being offensive. Blair’s no lap dog, he’s a good man, a skilled legislator and a principled conservative.

  • Daro

    Blair was definitely the ideal candidate with a strong resume!

  • Lynn Bergman

    Julie will be infinitely more conservative than our new DPI Superintendent… but will have a lot to live up to because she did not first seek the position either at the convention or in the primary.

    I admire the courage it takes to decide to serve, run a campaign for nomination, and, if sucessful, seek election to office. Hats off to those that have the passion to enter the fray on their own volition!

  • Tired of the Corruption

    The Minot Mafia scores again. More women? BS !

  • Roy_Bean

    I don’t have an ax to grind either way but if Julie isn’t a potential Senate candidate in 2018 then this was a wasted opportunity. If she is and Blair isn’t then she was a perfect choice. We need fresh young familiar faces for the future. This is how you get them the name recognition they need to make sure Heidi is a one term senator.

  • Dallas

    Julie is a Liffrig and they’re all half-crazy. Energy, she wrote a policy but doesn’t know much about it. I suspect the first item on the PSC agenda for Julie will be increasing electric rates for Planned Parenthood.

    • Carter Wood

      With respect, you’re an idiot.

      • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

        No respect needed. Dallas is a name caller because that’s all he’s bright enough for.

    • Chris Knight

      Dallas–I said this yesterday, but apparently it takes a while to sink in with you, so I’ll say it again. You obviously do not know Julie Fedorchak. And you are proving yourself to be half-crazy.

  • GinoHernandez

    I’m curious why Tom Brusegaard wasn’t picked for this job. He has the credentials and he’s well known and extremely popular in the state. Blair or Brusegaard would have been great picks for Dalrymple.

  • dyedinthewool

    Tits vs. Wits
    Tits 1
    Wits 0

    • RCND

      I don’t like the pick either but that’s outright disrespectful and out of line

      • Rick Olson

        Agreed. The above comment is disrespectful and out of line.

    • Flyby_Knight

      That’s disgusting. I don’t agree with the pick, but shame on you.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      That’s a disgusting comment.

      • dyedinthewool

        You’re right, I apologize for the comment.

  • Mike Peterson

    I’m completely let down, man I’ll be honest. There’s the Machine, and then there’s the Statesman.

  • dakotacyr

    Dalrymple doesn’t want a guy who is intimately tied to ALEC and missed legislative votes while on paid ALEC junkets. He was smart to pick someone not tied to ALEC.

  • Mel

    I feel sorry for the woman. If she’s as unqualified as everyone says she is, she’s not going to have an easy time of it. This kind of thing happens all the time in businesses where someone gets promoted above their capabilities – and they crash and burn because of it. Time will tell.

  • HideFromObama

    Really, to be on the PSC, you need to start with being smart with common sense. Be willing to study the issues, study the industries you are regulating, etc. Just like any job: You have to learn it. If she is capable of those things, then she’ll be fine.
    But again, we are talking about people here with careers in politics. When are they going to appoint someone with true field expierience in one or several of the industries being regulated? Someone that actually has been on the regulated side of the fence and understands both sides of the issues? THAT would be true expierience.

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