Senate Republicans pick leader to replace Stenehjem

2011-09-07T03:30:00Z Senate Republicans pick leader to replace StenehjemBy REBECCA BEITSCH Bismarck Tribune Bismarck Tribune
September 07, 2011 3:30 am  • 

The Senate Republican Caucus elected Sen. Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, on Tuesday night to serve as the new state Senate majority leader.

Wardner fills the leadership vacancy created by the death of Sen. Bob Stenehjem, R-Bismarck.

The Tuesday night caucus was, at times, emotional.

"The last time we were here electing a new leader in November, I was here nominating my friend Bob," said Sen. Karen Krebsbach, R-Minot, in nominating Wardner for the job.

He beat out three others: Sen. Tony Grindberg, R-Fargo, Sen. Dick Dever, R-Bismarck, and Sen. Jerry Klein, R-Fessenden.

Wardner said his leadership style will be one of getting others to participate with a focus on the future.

"We cannot be plodding along, taking care of little fires and not thinking about the future," he said, adding that the caucus should be focusing on legislation for the next 10 or 15 years.

Wardner, now retired, spent most of his career as a science and math teacher and a football and basketball coach before spending a few years at the Dickinson Chamber of Commerce. He has served in both the House and Senate.

His background in coaching was apparent in both his campaign and acceptance speech.

"We cannot stand on our past records. Everyone of you has to be intimately involved," he said, adding that the participation of each legislator would give a sense of confidence and ownership.

"Ninth-grade football players and legislators aren't that different. They react the same to criticism and motivation," he said afterward.

Wardner will serve as the majority leader during a special session where the Legislature will deal with redistricting, the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo and the implementation of health care reform.

Geography may have played a role in the election. Stenehjem being from Bismarck served as a counter to House Majority Leader Al Carlson, R-Fargo. Wardner said being from western North Dakota may have helped him get elected, though he did have to secure the votes of those from the eastern part of the state. He needed 18 votes to win, and Assistant Majority Leader Randy Christmann,

R-Hazen, would not release the final vote totals.

Though the western part of the state may now have more influence in the Senate, Wardner said he wants to address those issues in a way that's beneficial to the whole state.

Bismarck, however, no longer has the Senate leader.

"I wouldn't say it's bad for Bismarck, but it would've been good for Bismarck to have someone," said Dever, who did not get enough votes to make it into the final round of the election. "Bismarck will still be a powerful force."

The caucus also did not give the leadership position to the Fargo-based Grindberg. He had previously expressed interest in running for the U.S. House, but said Tuesday he is not interested in that.

"When my day comes that I leave public service, it will be from the state Senate," Grindberg said.

Christmann said the election represented a shift after he and Stenehjem led the caucus together for about 10 years, which he believes is record-setting.

"It's painful to carry on with things in Bob's absence," he said.

(Reach reporter Rebecca Beitsch at 250-8255 or 223-8482 or rebecca.beitsch@bismarcktribune.com.)

Copyright 2015 Bismarck Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(16) Comments

  1. Poetic_Justice
    Report Abuse
    Poetic_Justice - September 08, 2011 12:25 am
    Where is the toxicology report?
  2. BluePhoenix
    Report Abuse
    BluePhoenix - September 07, 2011 8:57 pm
    Poetic_Justice said: "I HAVE asked. I've been asking for over a month. Where is the toxicology report? Besides, why do I have to ask for something the Trib -- in their own article -- reported was a STANDARD PROCEDURE?Why would the procedure suddenly become above standard when a well-connected, political family is involved? Why? Are they royalty?The fact that this man -- who went out of his way to communicate his refusal to comply with seat-belt LAWS -- happens to be a PUBLIC servant from a highly political family, makes the standard procedure all the more standard.This is America. Nobody is above the law. Not even the royal Stenehjem dynasty.I have asked, and I will keep asking . . . and keep "hi-jacking" every article:Where is the toxicology report?"

    Who did you ask? The trolls on this forum? Do you think anyone here has the ability to get you what you want? Do you think the people who do have that ability ready this commentary? Ask all you like...hijack all you like...if you dont ask the right people you will never get the right answer...

    This is America, you have the right to your opinion, I have the right to mine...and I believe that you have a personal vendetta of some sort...my opinion is that no family calls up the press and offers medical records, they are usually asked for them...if they are not asked (and I dont mean in a forum, but OFFICIALLY) they don't likely even know who they would be expected to give it to...

    And yes Tribune, I did read the note here at the bottom...I am sorry for feeding the trolls....
  3. Poetic_Justice
    Report Abuse
    Poetic_Justice - September 07, 2011 5:56 pm
    BluePhoenix said: "why don't you call the Trib and ask "



    I HAVE asked. I've been asking for over a month.

    Where is the toxicology report?

    Besides, why do I have to ask for something the Trib -- in their own article -- reported was a STANDARD PROCEDURE?

    Why would the procedure suddenly become above standard when a well-connected, political family is involved? Why? Are they royalty?

    The fact that this man -- who went out of his way to communicate his refusal to comply with seat-belt LAWS -- happens to be a PUBLIC servant from a highly political family, makes the standard procedure all the more standard.

    This is America. Nobody is above the law. Not even the royal Stenehjem dynasty.

    I have asked, and I will keep asking . . . and keep "hi-jacking" every article:

    Where is the toxicology report?


  4. aceinthehole
    Report Abuse
    aceinthehole - September 07, 2011 1:00 pm
    I think he is buddys with that guy from PCS in Dickinson that was stealing all that money from his own company for his kids excavation business... I guess that doesnt make him a bad guy.. I have friends that arn't the greatest too... Good luck.. you have some big shoes to fill.
  5. BluePhoenix
    Report Abuse
    BluePhoenix - September 07, 2011 11:50 am
    Bill G-A-R-R said: "BluePhoenix, Not releasing this report is way more harmful. Why are the Stenehjems above the law? The rumors will continue until they do?"

    Has anyone OFFICIALLY asked for it? I guess if my husband/father/brother died I wouldn't think to just call up the Tribune and say "Oh hey, so do you guys want a copy of this autopsy report?" I figure that if they were interested in it they would call and ask if I would be willing to release it in which case I would be more than happy to do so....Maybe in ND the medically examiner routinely releases that information to the official newspaper of the city in which the incident occurs, but it is possible that a different state did not think to do so...either way, if it is that important to you Bill, why don't you call the Trib and ask them if they have requested it rather than just assuming that it is being purposefully withheld? Oh wait, never mind, I know the answer to that...

    Sorry Mr. Wardner that yet another thread has been hijacked by people who have nothing better to do but yet are unwilling to go through the proper channels...again I congratulate you on your appointment and wish you the best of luck going forward...
  6. Rural Conservative
    Report Abuse
    Rural Conservative - September 07, 2011 10:38 am
    Reader said: "Hey, Tribune. Wake up, could you have taken a couple of pictures for this story? "

    Gee, I am sure the Legislative Council has one for the asking they could provide for occasions like this
  7. Bill G-A-R-R
    Report Abuse
    Bill G-A-R-R - September 07, 2011 9:42 am
    BluePhoenix, Not releasing this report is way more harmful. Why are the Stenehjems above the law? The rumors will continue until they do?
  8. Reader
    Report Abuse
    Reader - September 07, 2011 8:36 am
    Hey, Tribune. Wake up, could you have taken a couple of pictures for this story?
  9. BluePhoenix
    Report Abuse
    BluePhoenix - September 07, 2011 8:29 am
    Congratulations Mr. Wardner! I am sure you will do a wonderful job. I have heard many good things about you from former students/players, and I know your experiences as a teacher and coach will be a great asset to your new position.
  10. BluePhoenix
    Report Abuse
    BluePhoenix - September 07, 2011 8:25 am
    Poetic_Justice said: "First of all . . . I'd like to thank Kathy for allowing this to happen.And secondly, has anyone heard anything about that toxicology report?"

    Yawn.....anyone else want to beat this dead horse???? I think PJ has a stick....

  11. Poetic_Justice
    Report Abuse
    Poetic_Justice - September 06, 2011 11:16 pm
    First of all . . . I'd like to thank Kathy for allowing this to happen.

    And secondly, has anyone heard anything about that toxicology report?
  12. Artist1
    Report Abuse
    Artist1 - September 06, 2011 10:55 pm
    Mr. Wardner will be asset to the State of North Dakota in his newly elected position. He definitely was one of my favorite teachers! Way-to-go Mr. Wardner!!
  13. swiper
    Report Abuse
    swiper - September 06, 2011 10:54 pm
    Great choice.
  14. Report Abuse
    - September 06, 2011 10:37 pm
    Senator Wardner: We wish you the best as you move into a top leadership position. Congratulations!
  15. JanuaryJones
    Report Abuse
    JanuaryJones - September 06, 2011 9:30 pm
    Congratulations Mr. Wardner!
  16. northernlights
    Report Abuse
    northernlights - September 06, 2011 9:14 pm
    Is this the best picture you could find?
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