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Meet North Dakota's future lieutenant governor

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When Drew Wrigley finished his work as North Dakota U.S. attorney in September 2009, he said he wasn't finished with a career in public service.

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Fourteen months later, he's set to be the state's next lieutenant governor.

The next step for Wrigley's career appeared on the horizon earlier this year when it seemed North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven could be poised for an almost-assured victory in the U.S. Senate race.

A Hoeven victory would mean Lt. Gov. Jack Dalrymple would become the next governor, creating a vacancy for the lieutenant governor position.

Several months ago -- around May -- Wrigley discreetly told Dalrymple he wanted a chance to be a part of that new Republican administration.

After months of occasional conversations, meals and meetings, Wrigley proved to be the "ideal" candidate for the job. He rose above several others who had shown interest, Dalrymple said.

Wrigley was offered the job on Tuesday, when Hoeven rode to victory in a landslide election that secured his forthcoming exit from the governor's office.

Dalrymple made his selection official on Thursday, appearing with Wrigley in Bismarck and Fargo.

"Someone asked me: 'When is your political future?' It's right now," Wrigley said. "This is the chance to serve my state, and I'm privileged. I just couldn't have been happier when Jack asked if I could join him in this."

Dalrymple said Wrigley meets all of the qualifications he had looked for in his successor and soon-to-be second in command.

Wrigley knows state government and the legislative process, and has experience with the federal government and federal policy, Dalrymple said.

Wrigley also has expertise in law enforcement, public safety and corrections matters.

"He really pretty much rings all the bells," Dalrymple said. "(Wrigley) is exactly what you're looking for in a lieutenant governor."

Wrigley, 45, is a native of Bismarck, but grew up in Fargo and graduated from Fargo South.

Dalrymple and Wrigley have known each other for more than a decade, interacting within North Dakota Republican circles.

In 1999, Wrigley served as the state GOP's executive director.

The pair first worked together when Wrigley was policy adviser and deputy chief of staff during the early months of the Hoeven-Dalrymple administration in 2001.

Wrigley left that post after being confirmed to serve as North Dakota's U.S. attorney, a job he held from 2001 to 2009.

Wrigley's transition to the state Capitol begins in less than two weeks.

He's in the final days of his job as a vice president at Noridian Administrative Services in Fargo and indicated he plans to move to Bismarck with his wife, Kathleen, and their three children.

By mid-November, Wrigley will be on staff within the governor's office -- a role that will get him up to speed on the legislative agenda and the upcoming state budget proposal before being officially sworn in, Dalrymple said.

Hoeven announced Thursday he plans to resign Dec. 7 in a ceremony that will formally transfer gubernatorial authority over to Dalrymple.

As an appointee, Wrigley could also be sworn in the same day, Dalrymple said.

As part of his duties, Wrigley will preside over the state Senate, and Dalrymple expects he will be the point man for key items in the legislative agenda.

Lieutenant governors nationwide typically hold a more ceremonial role outside the day-to-day governing of a state, but Hoeven's approach made Dalrymple an active participant in North Dakota leadership.

Dalrymple said he wants to continue that specialized role with Wrigley in his administration.

"Most lieutenant governors do not get to do anything near what I got to do with John Hoeven," Dalrymple said. "If anything, they're kind of intentionally suppressed, because most governors are not totally comfortable with the ambitions of their lieutenant governors."

"It's been a very special privilege," he said. "I'd like to get that same kind of relationship."

Forum Communications Co. multimedia reporter Teri Finneman contributed to this report.

Daum is a reporter with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.

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