Rumors Swirling About Dalrymple’s PSC Pick


Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer enjoyed the overwhelming support of North Dakota voters on election day for his bid to serve in the US House. Now he’s Representative-elect Cramer, and Governor Dalrymple is tasked with picking his replacement to serve out the remaining four years of his six year PSC term.

Whoever is picked would have to have that appointment confirmed on the 2014 ballot, and then run again for re-election at the end of the term in 2016. So, obviously, picking someone with experience and pedigree for the position is of the utmost importance as whoever is picked won’t have a lot of time to build up that experience before having to face voters and opposition for Democrats who, for the last few cycles, have had the PSC in their cross hairs.

District 44 State Rep. Blair Thoreson has been the favorite for Dalrymple’s nod so far. Thoreson has a lengthy track record of policy-making in the state having served in the legislature since 1999 (he won re-election earlier this month), serving on the Government Operations division of the House Appropriations committee. He also currently serves on the interim Administrative Rules, Budget Section, and Government Services committees and was employed in the telecommunications industry for 14 years (the PSC has oversight over telecommunications in ND).

Thoreson also ran for the PSC in the last cycle, though he lost a friendly competition at the NDGOP convention to Christmann (who will be seated on the PSC in the coming term). Cramer has said in public interviews that he would like to see Thoreson take over his seat on the PSC.

But another name has apparently come up in discussions about this appointment. Julie Liffrig Fedorchak, Senator John Hoeve’s state director, has been named by credible sources as another potential appointee. Fedorchak has a long history in media relations, marketing, communications and speech writing (she also served as director of communications under former Governor Ed Schafer for six years), but not the policy background that Thoreson enjoys.

One knock on Governor John Hoeven, under whom Dalrymple served as Lt. Governor, was that he tended to be a bit too consumed with political patronage in these appointments, passing over perhaps more deserving candidates to reward loyalists in his inner political circles. Sometimes there has been a distinct impression that Hoeven’s circle of loyalists are a party within the NDGOP. Fedorchak could be viewed as that same sort of appointment, I think.

Let’s hope that Dalrymple sides with Thoreson and policy experience over patronage and political loyalty.

Rob Port is the editor of 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.

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  • Snowman

    You can’t have a political appointment speculation article without throwing Ed into the mix. I know he has said time and time again that he is an adminstrator and would only consider the Gov. office but he gets listed in every other story about who might get appointed to fill an open slot. On a more serious note Schafer is a good idea because of the more administrative nature of the PCS.

    • Rob

      What are you even talking about?

      • Snowman

        I was referring to the inablitity of most of the media agencies in ND to include Ed’s name in any and all speculation articles for any and all policital appointments. I was trying for sarcasim but apparently was too subtle. The other point I was getting at was that of all of those articles pitching Ed as a good candiate for dog catcher to president of the universe PSC is the best idea so far. Again i might have been too subtle

    • JW American

      Ed has an 800K/yr gig as a BoD for Continental Oil, what would give anyone the idea that a 2 term Gov, and Frmr USDA Secretary would want give that up to be on the ND PSC?

      So he could spend his time driving around the state to attend hearings on pipeline placement? Sure.. He’d jump right on that one..

  • Dallas

    Julie is a Liffrig. liffrig’s are all crazy. You’d have a debate about legitimate rape and debatres about electric rates for Planned Parenthood if she’s appointed.

    • opinion

      I think Julie is about as level-headed as someone can be. She is very intelligent and I believe would do a good job. That said Blair Thorsen has proven he has the desire for the job and the background. He has proven he can win tough elections in the past as well. I am sure there are other interested as well. Some of those are probably very good candidates as well. The main thing the governor has to think about other than “will this person be a good PSC” is “can the person win statewide?” “Do they know how to campaign?”

      • Rob

        That’s a good point. Whoever is appointed has to win in 2014 and 2016.

        • Roy_Bean

          If the democrats campaigned against her we could invoke the war on women. But on a more serious note, the democrats have used offices like this to get people in the public eye and get the name recognition for things like the senate election in 2018. North Dakota Republicans have 6 years to find the right person to replace Heidi in the Senate and that should be a consideration in filling this office now.

    • Chris Knight

      Dallas–you just proved you don’t know Julie Fedorchak. Get your facts before you spew. And since when does the PSC have anything to do with abortion. Geez.

  • camsaure

    After witnessing several of Horevens votes lately, I would be want to rule out any favorites from his “inner circle”.

  • Rick Olson

    This just in…

    It appears that Rep. Blair Thoreson did not make the cut. He just posted this note to his Facebook page:

    “I was honored to be considered for an appointment to the ND Public Service Commission, however I was informed by the Governor’s office this morning that he will be “going in a different direction” and will make an announcement later today. Thank you to those who offered their support on my behalf.”

  • NDConservative2011

    Blair Thorsen has the background and knowledge to step in and hit the ground running. I don’t think a Hoeven(ite) political appointee is in the best interest of the state. I have had one source explain to me that Blair has received a call informing him that he will not be appointed to the position. I sure hope this is only a rumor and not fact. Let’s see if Dalrymple is his own man, or will he cave to the pressure put upon him by RINO Hoeven.
    I too agree with many conservatives that John Hoeven is a real disappointment both as a governor and now as a senator. In my opinion, he should have stayed in the Democratic party, but as a power hungry individual, he saw his best chance to advance in politics as a Republican. Governor Ed’s policies placed our state on the right track lending to success, and both Hoeven and Dalrymple are enjoying as well as taking credit for these successes. A 125% increase in spending simply is not sustainable, but both Hoeven and Dalrymple know that it sure buys a lot of votes.