Since election day I’ve heard a rumor from numerous readers in the Bismarck area suggesting that Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk may be stepping down from his post. The basis for these rumors is the fact that Kalk sold his Bismarck-area home and is currently living in an apartment.
This would be big news as there has already been a significant amount of turnover at the PSC. Earlier this year Commissioner Tony Clark departed for a federal appointment at FERC and was replaced by a place-holder nominee by Governor Dalrymple pending the outcome of the election, which put Randy Christmann in that spot. But the election also sent Commissioner Kevin Cramer to serve in the US House, meaning that his spot will need to be filled by the governor as well and confirmed on the next general election ballot.
If Kalk were to step down in the coming months, that would require the third appointment to the PSC in less than a year. A lot of churn for a department of the state government that, in many ways, is central to the state’s booming energy sector.
Many observers feel that Kalk has always seen his PSC seat as a stepping-stone for higher office, and indeed Kalk did run for and receive the NDGOP’s endorsement to run for the US House (Cramer eventually beat him out in the June primary).
Yesterday I had occasion to speak with Commissioner Kalk, though, and he tells me he has no intention of stepping down. He said he sold his Bismarck home because he’s a “capitalist” and wanted to take advantage of a favorable housing market. He said he and his family are currently looking for a condo or something along those lines in the Bismarck area.
Kalk was first elected to the PSC in 2008, getting into that race after first considering a run against then-Rep. Earl Pomeroy and beating out former Senate Majority Leader Bob Stenehjem for the NDGOP nomination. He would be up for re-election in 2014. If he were to make a decision to step down, one would expect it in the coming months to give Governor Dalrymple plenty of time to find yet another appointee and to give that appointee time to settle into office before needing to be elected to the position in 2014.