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Port: Crybaby term-limits campaigners insult the intelligence of North Dakota's voters

Not only do the term-limits campaigners think North Dakota voters are too stupid to be in charge of their own decision to re-elect incumbents (the whole point of their ballot measure is to limit that choice), but they think we can be bamboozled into ignoring their unethical petitioning processes too.

PHOTO: Jared Hendrix
Bastiat Caucus organizer Jared Hendrix speaks during a rally at the North Dakota Capitol on April 5, 2021. (Jeremy Turley / Forum News Service)
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MINOT, N.D. — Do you remember when people who called themselves conservatives cared about the concept of personal responsibility?

It was this beautiful idea that you are responsible for your choices. If you make bad ones, you have no right to blame the consequences on others.

You own your successes, but you own your failures too.

I miss those days.

All the more so as we watch Jared Hendrix, one of the organizers of an insurgency of supposedly authentic conservatives that has been dividing the North Dakota Republican Party in recent years, try to blame his failures on others with the sort of crybaby recriminations and conspiracy-mongering that have become the hallmarks of Trumpy political movements.

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Hendrix was hired by an out-of-state group to head up a ballot measure campaign for term limits. It's an endeavor to dupe North Dakota voters into limiting their own choices at the ballot under the misguided assumption that this will fix what ails our political institutions. That it hasn't worked that way anywhere it's been tried is something we're all supposed to gloss over.

His campaign turned in far more than the requisite number of signatures, but Secretary of State Al Jaeger barred the measure from the ballot. Because, frankly, the signature collection process Hendrix presided over was a mess.

Tens of thousands of signatures were dismissed as invalid for a multitude of problems ranging from errors in the way people signed the petitions to potential fraud. The latter is under investigation by Attorney General Drew Wrigley's office.

Rather than own up to running a slipshod petition campaign, Hendrix is trying to bully his measure onto the ballot with bluster and intimidation. His campaign even hired a lawyer used by disgraced former President Donald Trump in his quixotic effort to overturn the 2020 election.

But Jaeger is standing by his ruling. This week he sent a letter to the Trump lawyer, Edward Greim, rejecting his blustery arguments for placing this measure on the ballot.

Hendrix, a leftover from the Ron Paul campaign who first came to North Dakota in 2012, persists with his crybaby accusations against Jaeger, an elected official who North Dakota voters have trusted to make these sorts of decisions for nearly four decades.

“We’re extremely disappointed that the Secretary of State’s Office has continued to disregard the 46,000 North Dakotans who clearly want to be able to decide the term limits issue on the ballot this November,” Hendrix said in a statement to the Minot Daily News. “Outside of a small echo chamber political class in Bismarck, term limits has an 82% favorability with North Dakota voters. Our team is continuing to review all possible options for responding to this slap in the face of North Dakota voters, and will make a decision in due time.”

Term limits might be popular with North Dakotans, or it might not. That's beside the point. What is the point is that everyone who participates in North Dakota's political process is obliged to follow North Dakota's laws.

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Jaeger's office, with an assist from Bureau of Criminal Investigation officials, who continue to review the matter, say Hendrix and his campaign didn't follow the laws. Charles Tuttle, a well-known gadfly in state politics who was employed by Hendrix's campaign to collect signatures, even described, during a publicly broadcasted radio interview , having compensated petitioners based on the number of signatures collected, something that is illegal under state law.

Hendrix and his ilk spend a lot of their time shouting about integrity in our state's political processes. And yet, here they are, lacking the integrity to follow North Dakota's very simple laws around ballot measures, and throwing a tantrum when faced with the consequences of running afoul of those laws.

Not only do Hendrix and his crew think North Dakota voters are too stupid to be in charge of their own decision to re-elect an incumbent (the whole point of their ballot measure is to limit that choice), but they think we can be bamboozled into ignoring their unethical petitioning process.

If they had any integrity, they'd pack up their campaign and try again some other time, but they don't, so they won't.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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