Bismarck Republican Rep. Mike Nathe has thrown his hat in the ring for majority leader of the North Dakota House of Representatives, as have two of his colleagues.
Nathe, Rep. Chet Pollert, of Carrington, and Rep. Dan Ruby, of Minot, are contending to replace defeated Rep. Al Carlson, who has been majority leader since 2008 and in the state House since 1993.
Carlson came in last place Tuesday among four candidates vying for two seats to represent District 41 of Fargo. He did not return two phone messages left Wednesday and Thursday seeking comment.
“I feel like I’ve got the experience, I’ve been at the table for a lot of decisions and I’ve got a lot of good relationships with my colleagues,” said Nathe, who added he’s been speaking with fellow lawmakers since Wednesday. Nathe has represented District 30 of the south Bismarck area since 2009.
Pollert said he feels his appropriations experience would be beneficial, if chosen. He also said he hopes fellow Republicans select a leader who can further the party’s philosophy and make gains.
Ruby said he's learned from his own experience and Carlson's leadership.
"I have seen things that I would like to do a little different and some improvements ... and decided that this was the right time for me to see if I could get the support from my caucus to be the leader," Ruby said.
House Republicans will pick their new leader next week.
North Dakota Republican Party chair Rick Berg — who was House majority leader from 2002 to 2008 — said the position isn’t easy.
“Obviously, you have to take a strong position on a lot of issues and you tend to be the lightning rod for criticism and everything else,” said Berg, who expressed disappointment with Carlson’s defeat and called the longtime legislator “a tremendous leader.”
Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck, said he’s still evaluating the candidates for House majority leader, adding that their views on the state’s finances, leadership styles and emphases on bills will be important perspectives for the position.
House Minority Leader Corey Mock, D-Grand Forks, said he looks forward to working with a majority leader who is “willing and eager” to work with Democratic-NPL lawmakers.
“Someone who’s fair and puts partisanship behind us when it’s time to take off the red and blue jerseys and put on the Team North Dakota shirts and work together,” Mock said. “That’s what I’m looking forward to.”