Earlier this week, the Bismarck Tribune reported that former NDGOP Chairman and businessman Gary Emineth is seeking the District 35 Republican endorsement for State Senate. As you may recall, Emineth briefly entered the U.S. Senate race in a bid to seek the NDGOP endorsement to take on Democratic incumbent Heidi Heitkamp. But then CNN made a big deal about some of his past social media posts, followed by Congressman Kevin Cramer jumping in the U.S. Senate race, and Emineth withdrew his candidacy in support of Cramer.
Emineth’s decision to jump into the District 35 State Senate race against Democratic incumbent Erin Oban turns what appeared to be an uncontested race into perhaps the most compelling race for the State Legislature. Oban was elected in 2014 when she ousted Republican Margaret Sitte. And since that time, her voting record has been less than impressive.
In the American Conservative Union Foundation’s (ACU) 2017 Ratings of North Dakota, Senator Oban was tied for the second worst voting record in the Senate at 17%– only behind Senator Tim Mathern (D – District 11) and his 6%.
Let’s take a look at some votes Oban got wrong:
- Constitutional Carry (House Bill 1169) – this bill was one of the major victories for North Dakotans to come out of the 2017 Legislative Session. With its passage, the requirement for qualified individuals to have a Concealed Weapons Permit, in order to carry a gun concealed, was eliminated– meaning the ability to carry concealed was elevated to more of a right than a privilege. Yet, Senator Oban voted against it.
- Parental Rights to Opt Homeschool Children Out of State Assessments (House Bill 1428) – this bill enables homeschool parents without a bachelor’s degree to opt their children out of state assessments for philosophical or religious reasons. Prior to its passage, homeschool parents were required to have a bachelor’s degree, teaching certificate, or they had to pass a national teacher examination– requirements not made of parents of public school children who opt children out of the same testing. Oban voted against this parental right for homeschoolers.
- Freedom of Speech on Campus (House Bill 1329) – this bill would have required the State Board of Higher Education to develop policy in regards to protecting free speech that would have been written into a Student Bill of Rights. This would have included a prohibition of “safe spaces” that have become predominant in other states. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Rick Becker (R – District 7), made a compelling case for the bill on the House side. But not to be deterred by logic, Senator Oban carried the bill to the Senate floor, advocated for its defeat, and then voted against it.
- Legislative Management Study of a School Choice Program (House Bill 1382) – in its original form, this bill would have created a school choice program for North Dakota. But the bill ran into some serious questions of constitutionality and legality. It was then changed to propose a study of the subject during the interim, but the bill failed with Oban opposing it.
- Government Funding of the Arts (Senate Bill 2010) – this bill appropriated over $1.5 million from taxpayers to fund the North Dakota Council on the Arts, who approve grants to art programs requesting the dollars. Senator Oban supported the freebies.
I realize this is just a snapshot of a much larger voting record, but I chose these for a reason– gun rights, free speech, parental rights, school choice, and opposing government freebies to the arts. These are important issues to consider for constituents in District 35 and North Dakotans in general. I challenge those interested to look further into her record. It’s not impressive.
To be rated the second most liberal Senator in the North Dakota Legislature is pretty bad. The Senate as a whole isn’t conservative. In fact, their overall rating by the ACU was 50%. And the recent North Dakota Watchdog Legislative Scorecard refused to even rate the Senate due to “lack of diversity in voting records”.
So, when Senator Oban says she’s “tired of partisan rhetoric and bitter partisanship”, it’s difficult to take her seriously. Even in the atrocious North Dakota Senate, she’s about as partisan as they come. Which I suppose shouldn’t surprise us. After all, she belongs to a party that is bringing former Vice President Joe Biden to North Dakota to give the keynote at their State Convention.
At the end of the day, one thing is blatantly obvious– Oban is a liberal, and she needs to go.