Senator challenging democrats' leaderBISMARCK — A Democratic-NPL state senator in his first term is challenging current Senate Minority Leader David O’Connell for the leadership post.
By: Janell Cole, The Dickinson Press
BISMARCK — A Democratic-NPL state senator in his first term is challenging current Senate Minority Leader David O’Connell for the leadership post.
“I just think it’s time for change,” said Sen. Tracy Potter, D-Bismarck.
The caucus will hold its election Sunday evening in Bismarck, just ahead of the Legislature’s organizational session, which begins Monday.
Potter was elected to the Senate in 2006 and the session that begins in January will be his second.
O’Connell, of Lansford, has been the Democrats’ leader since the 2003 session and is seeking re-election. He has been in the Senate 20 years and earlier served in the state House for three sessions.
Potter said he should not be considered inexperienced because he has worked in state government and in the tourism industry for many years, both of which involved working with legislators. He also noted that many other Democrats in the Senate are also in their first term.
“There were more experienced people who didn’t want to step up and do the job,” he said.
Two others who had considered running for leader were Sen. Tim Mathern, D-Fargo, and Sen. Aaron Krauter, D-Regent, both of whom formerly served as leaders before O’Connell.
O’Connell said Potter called him a few days ago to tell him he was running for leader and asked for O’Connell’s support.
“We let it go at that,” O’Connell said, but noted he has no hard feelings.
“Heck, no. I don’t mind. Anybody can run. It’s a free country, he said. “I give him credit for being right up front.”
He also noted that Potter would bring a different, more active style to the post.
“He’s got a lot of history behind him. He’s good on his feet and he’s a good talker,” he said.