When Governor Doug Burgum (R) was running his campaign last year as a gubernatorial candidate, he did so portraying himself as an outsider. Part of his campaign rhetoric was that he wanted to break up the "good old boys club". A reference to the Republican super-majority in the legislature that had developed horrible spending habits for the better part of a decade.
One of those that didn’t take kindly to Burgum’s "good old boys" rhetoric was House Majority Leader Al Carlson (R – District 41). As time went on, and candidate Burgum eventually became Governor Burgum, one would think that bygones would be bygones and that Rep. Carlson would let go of the past. But I’m not convinced that he has.
In September of last year – prior to the November election – Carlson referred to Burgum in an interview with Rob Port as having "seen the light" on his comments. A comment that kind of came across with a degree of superiority and arrogance on the Majority Leaders part.
Earlier this year, Governor Burgum wanted to pay for some upgrades to the Governor’s Mansion like a heated garage floor and a skylight. The Associated Press reported Carlson as saying, "The design already has been approved by a committee and the governor doesn’t get to change anything just because he’s willing to pay for it." A feeling he expressed very strongly in an interview with Joel Heitkamp.
Then on the final day of the recently completed legislative session, Carlson took a poke in some of his concluding remarks by saying that the hardest people to train are the governors. He then jokingly mentioned "Doug". Again, a reference that kind of exudes a sense of superiority and arrogance when speaking about the governor.
Things didn’t end with the legislative session. Last week, Governor Burgum used his veto pen on some legislation that left more than a few legislators unhappy. Among them was Rep. Al Carlson who – together with Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R – District 37) – is reported to be considering whether to come back into session to attempt overrides of the governor’s vetoes. The legislature used 77 of their constitutionally mandated 80 days. So, they have three days to spare if they choose to use them.
When I consider Rep. Carlson’s history of comments towards Governor Burgum – and the tone in which he has said them – I cannot help but wonder how much of his consideration for reconvening to override vetoes is based on differences of opinion and how much of it is just wanting to send a message to a man he quite possibly holds a grudge against?