Eye-witness to peaceful transition

James Maxson


I have made many mistakes in my life, but one of them wasn’t staying in North Dakota after having graduated from UND law school.

At age 38, suffering from delusions of adequacy, I ran for the North Dakota State Senate in a Minot District. BNSF engineer Larry Schoenwald ran for the North Dakota State Senate that same year in another Minot district. I won by a landslide, but Larry won by one, yes one, vote.

As a result of Larry’s win, the Democratic party had a one-vote majority in the North Dakota State Senate. Pursuant to North Dakota law, close elections like that are subject to mandatory recounts. The recount confirmed Larry Schoenfeld’s narrow win. His opponent, incumbent Mike Timm, appealed to the North Dakota Supreme Court. Ask your attorney if he or she thinks the North Dakota Supreme Court has historically been a hotbed of liberalism. The Supreme Court upheld the recount and Larry became Senator Larry, although his nickname in Bismarck was “Landslide Larry.”

It would be inaccurate to say there were no emotions involved. Obviously, this had a significant impact on public policy. That said, I have no recollection of Republicans entering the state Capitol building armed with bear spray. I have no recollection of the Capitol police, which in Bismarck are the State Highway Patrol, being beaten, nor anyone disparaging their ethnicity. I have no recollection of any threats to the life of either the Lieutenant Governor or the Senate Majority Leader. I have no recollection of anyone relieving themselves in the Capitol building or defacing portraits of Lawrence Welk or Peggy Lee in the state hall of fame.

I agree with Will Rogers when he said, “I don’t belong to an organized party, I’m a Democrat.” Those who think the Democratic party is capable of pulling off massive voter fraud in seven states have grossly overestimated it. Both political parties are filled with a variety of individuals. Some are sharp as a tack and some are as sharp as a marble. That said, I was an eye-witness to a contested, but peaceful transition of power in North Dakota as a young man. It was beautiful. It was also transitory. The weather in North Dakota is sketchy, but we have neighbors. Peace be with you.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today