Hoeven seeks third term

BISMARCK - Gov. John Hoeven wants to be the second governor in state history to be elected to serve 12 years in office, and to become the first with three four-year terms.

BISMARCK - Gov. John Hoeven wants to be the second governor in state history to be elected to serve 12 years in office, and to become the first with three four-year terms.

Hoeven chose a subtle method Tuesday of announcing he'll seek a third term. A member of his senior staff, Don Larson, issued a statement that he's left his position in the governor's office to manage the governor's 2008 re-election campaign.

Hoeven said he will make a more formal announcement later this fall. Lt. Gov. Jack Dalrymple said he'll again be on the ticket.

The governor didn't say when he decided.

"In the last month or so, we've been out (around the state) talking to people about running again," he said.


Hoeven, his wife, Mikey, and Dalrymple decided to make the bid because they're "excited about what's going on and the future of the state," he said.

Dalrymple and Hoeven both said North Dakotans seem to like the direction the state is going and want more of the same.

Dalrymple said, "It is all about figuring out what you can contribute, if it's going to of value to the people of North Dakota. We think there's more we can do."

Hoeven, 50, and a Republican, had been widely expected to seek a third term, but until Tuesday had not announced a decision. One popular bit of gossip speculated Dalrymple would retire and a new lieutenant governor candidate would step in as a possible heir apparent should Hoeven not finish his term.

Many political observers believe Hoeven will seek to oust Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., in 2010 instead of completing a third term and Democrats immediately challenged the governor about it on Tuesday.

"I think the first question the governor needs to answer is whether he's going to complete all four years of his term," Democratic-NPL Executive Director Jamie Selzler said today. "If that (Senate race) is his intention, he needs to be honest about it. But if it is not his intention, he needs to assure the voters he's running for a four-year term and he needs to serve it."

Asked Tuesday about a Senate bid, Hoeven said, "I'm not going to speculate on something like that. We're focused on this job." When pressed, he added, "I'm not going to rule anything out."

Among Democrats, only state Sen. Tim Mathern, D-Fargo, has made public an interest in the 2008 gubernatorial race. He announced an exploratory committee Aug. 31.


Mathern said in prepared comments sent by e-mail Tuesday that Hoeven's announcement doesn't change his plans. He was traveling and unavailable for an interview.

He also said he's disappointed Hoeven "is not doing more with this leadership potential and position" than seeking to remain in office. He said another Republican should enter the race to spur discussion about issues.

Hoeven was first elected in 2000, defeating Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp 55 percent to 45 percent. He buried Democrat Joe Satrom with 71 percent of the vote when he was re-elected in 2004.

Hoeven could become only the second governor in state history to serve 12 years. Gov. William Guy served from 1960-72, but he was not elected to three four-year terms.

During his tenure, voters amended the state constitution to change statewide offices from two-year terms to four-year terms. Guy was elected in 1960, 1962, 1964 and 1968.

The last governor to attempt a third four-year term was Democrat Art Link, who was defeated in 1980 by then Attorney General Al Olson. George Sinner, a Democrat, ousted Olson after one term. Sinner decided two terms was enough and left office in 1992.

Hoeven consistently had approval ratings from the mid 70 percent range to as high as 86 percent in monthly tracking polls done in years past by SurveyUSA, which ranked all 50 governors. The polls have apparently not been done in North Dakota since November.

Before entering politics, Hoeven was executive vice president at his family's bank, First Western in Minot, until 1993, when he was appointed president of the state-owned Bank of North Dakota. He left that job to campaign full time for governor in 2000, his first attempt at public office.

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