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.”