North Dakota Democratic-Nonpartisan League Party

North Dakota Democratic-Nonpartisan League Party
North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party
Chairman Greg Hodur
Senate leader Ryan Taylor
House leader Jerry Kelsh
Founded 1956 (1956)
Headquarters Kennedy Center
1902 East Divide Ave
Bismarck, ND 58501
46°49′25″N 100°45′45″W / 46.82362°N 100.76246°W / 46.82362; -100.76246Coordinates: 46°49′25″N 100°45′45″W / 46.82362°N 100.76246°W / 46.82362; -100.76246
Ideology American Liberalism
National affiliation Democratic Party
Official colors Blue
Seats in the Upper House
12 / 47
Seats in the Lower House
25 / 94
Politics of the United States
Political parties

The North Dakota Democratic-Nonpartisan League Party (abbreviated Democratic-NPL, Dem-NPL or DNL) is the North Dakota affiliate of the Democratic Party of the United States. This political organization is the outcome of a merger of two parties prior to which the state enjoyed a three-party political system.



The North Dakota Democratic-Nonpartisan League Party has roots in the Progressive Era of American history. Led by lawyers, merchants, editors, and professors, progressives of the time joined both the Republican Party, which had strong control of state politics, as well as the state Democratic Party, the progressive faction of which called itself "the party of the laborer and the farmer."[1] Although their cooperation did not impair North Dakota's staunch allegiance to the Republican Party, progressives found some support in the Norwegian-settled eastern portion of the state.[1] By 1906, Progressive roots were growing in opposition to what many saw as complete control of state politics by the railroads of the day.[1] The initial organization and calls for reform laid a foundation that soon would grow into a statewide socialist movement of workers.

1906 through 1915

The next nine years were marked by a series of revolutionary progressive successes, starting with John Burke's election to governor in 1906. Alexander McKenzie's conservative political machine controlled the Senate, but the House of Representatives was filled with progressive Democrats and Republicans, who managed to introduce many anti-railroad bills against staunch opposition by lobbyists. Many Progressive legislation and reforms were passed during this time, including a direct primary law, a joint resolution for a constitutional amendment for the initiative and referendum power of the people, a public library commission law, and laws to enforce prohibition. Subsequent years would prove the end of Alexander McKenzie and his Republican political machine. By 1908, the first State electoral primaries solidified his retirement. That year the Republican Party, free from McKenzie's conservative influence, crafted an extremely progressive party platform. Progressive Democratic Governor John Burke remained in position with Republican votes.[1]

North Dakota again proved its progressive sympathies in 1912. This year the state held the first United States Presidential Preference Primary on March 19.[1] North Dakota Republicans favored progressive presidential candidate Robert M. La Follette over Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. Despite an angry Roosevelt forming the Progressive Party after losing the nomination to Taft, he had little support from North Dakota, where many Progressives distrusted his backers, George Walbridge Perkins of the J.P. Morgan group and International Harvester. Because of such opposition, Woodrow Wilson carried the state in November. Republican Louis B. Hanna was elected governor in 1912 and 1914. Once in office, he and his legislative allies halted the creation of a state-operated grain elevator, which may have convinced progressives to unite in 1915.[1]

Rise of the Non-Partisan League

When Arthur C. Townley came to Bismarck, North Dakota in 1915, he saw strife between a conservative legislature and farmers' interest groups. With his background in organizing farmers for the Socialist Party,]], Socialist activity had begun in North Dakota in 1900 when Arthur Basset organized a socialist club in Fargo.[1] Townley brought his expertise to North Dakota.[2] He knew that with the recent strife in Bismarck between a conservative legislature and the American Society of Equity and its farm following, the time was ripe for a political revolution. Townley resolved to organize the farmers, so that they could control the primaries, whether it be Republicans or Democrats or both. This was the organization of the Farmers Nonpartisan League (later called the National Nonpartisan League). Townley organized the farmers of the state together for united action in nominating at the primaries and electing at the polls the men of their own choosing and men who would carry out their programs.[2]

The Method of Organization was simple, scientific and successful. Organizers carefully went forth in ever increasing numbers to sell the idea to the farmers and to get their support for the new movement. The league grew in leaps and bounds. The first members were pledged in February 1915. Before midsummer, there were 10,000 members, and before winter set-in, there were 26,000 names enrolled. [2]

The Nonpartisan League membership pledge was $2.50 a year, it later rose to nine dollars a year. The goals of the league were to use their collective best efforts to secure the nomination and election of men for office within the state. Men whom the investigations of the League have show by conviction, record and conduct do approve and will support legislation necessary for the purpose of saving millions of dollars each year for the farmer and were to be nominated and elected to carry out of the league program. [2]

The League Program was concise and to the point. It consisted of five planks, as follows:

  1. State Owned and Operated elevators, flour mills, and packing plants
  2. State hail insurance
  3. Exemption of farm improvements from taxation
  4. Fair grain grades, based upon milling and baking values
  5. Rural Credits at cost

Each was designed to remedy what the farmers conceived as an abuse, and each was to lower the cost of producing and marketing grain. [2]

The determination of the league fulfilled their pledge and many of their planks passed legislation. The growth of far left sympathies was on the rise in North Dakota. The Socialists had considerable success. They brought in many outside speakers; Eugene V. Debs spoke at a large antiwar rally at Garrison in 1915. By 1912, there were 175 Socialist locals in the state. Rugby and Hillsboro elected Socialist mayors. The party had even established a weekly paper, the Iconoclast, in Minot, North Dakota. [1]

Throughout the decades, the League pushed for the establishments of State operated mills, elevators, banks, and the like. While the state was not entirely isolationist, just as it was neither entirely liberal nor entirely conservative. By 1952, the Non-partisan league was itself divided.

Toward a two-party system

Electoral history

Members of the State House

The Democratic-NPL Party fully represents 9 of North Dakota's 47 legislative districts in the House of Representatives with two members and shares representation with the Republicans in 7 additional districts, for a total of 25 Democratic-NPL house members.

The 25 members are as follows:[3]

Representative District
Tom Conklin 4th
Kenton Onstad 4th
Bob Hunskor 6th
Tracy Boe 9th
Marvin E. Nelson 9th
Ron Guggisberg 11th
Scot Kelsh 11th
Lyle Hanson 12th
Joe Kroeber 12th
Robert J. 'Tork' Kilichowski 16th
Eliot Glassheim 18th
Lonny B. Winrich 18th
Richard G. 'Rick' Holman 20th
Lee A. Kaldor 20th
Kathy L. Hogan 21st
Steve Zaiser 21st
Ralph Metcalf 24th
Phillip 'Phil' Mueller 24th
Clark Williams 25th
Bill Amerman 26th
Jerome G. 'Jerry' Kelsh 26th
Shirley J. Meyer 36th
Corey Mock 42nd
Lois Delmore 43rd
Ed Gruchalla 45th

Members of the State Senate

The 12 members of the State Senate are as follows:[4]

Senator District
John Warner 4th
David O'Connell 6th
Ryan Taylor 7th
Richard Marcellais 9th
Tim Mathern 11th
Constance 'Connie' Triplett 18th
Philip M. Murphy 20th
Carolyn Nelson 21st
Joan Heckaman 23rd
Larry J. Robinson 24th
Jim Dotzenrod 26th
Mac Schneider 42nd

U.S. House of Representatives

1st congressional district

2nd congressional district

At-large Representative

U.S. Senate history

Class I

Class III

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Robinson, Elwyn (1966). History of North Dakota. University of Nebraska Press. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Tostlebe, Alvin (1969). The Bank of North Dakota: An experiment in agrarian banking. New York: AMS Press. 
  3. ^ "State House of North Dakota". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved October 25, 2011. 
  4. ^ "State Senate of North Dakota". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved October 25, 2011. 

External links

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