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Published December 12, 2011, 04:29 PM

ND Dem Leader Seeking Nod For Governor

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Ryan Taylor, a Towner rancher who is the North Dakota Senate's Democratic leader, became the party's first candidate for governor Monday when he said he would seek the Democratic endorsement for the job.

By: Associated Press,

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Ryan Taylor, a Towner rancher who is the North Dakota Senate's Democratic leader, became the party's first candidate for governor Monday when he said he would seek the Democratic endorsement for the job.

Taylor, 41, will give up a Senate seat he has held for nine years if he runs for governor this fall. He is serving his first term as leader of the Senate Democrats, who are outnumbered by Republicans 35-12.

North Dakota's energy boom, low unemployment rate and general prosperity has made it "a special time" for the state, Taylor said.

However, he believes the problems that have accompanied the growth have been soft-pedaled, such as rising rents for elderly North Dakotans and the increasing industrialization of western North Dakota's sparsely populated oil-producing region.

When discussing his possible candidacy with friends, Democratic activists and others, "they had that sense that ... here we have all these opportunities, but they still see all these challenges, and they didn't want to see the challenges sugar-coated," Taylor said. "They wanted us to address them."

Incumbent GOP Gov. Jack Dalrymple, who served as lieutenant governor for a decade before ascending to the top job in December 2010, is running for his own four-year term. His predecessor, John Hoeven, resigned after he was elected to the U.S. Senate.

Dalrymple faces a challenger for the Republican endorsement, Fargo architect Paul Sorum.

Taylor said he did not believe he would face any competition for the Democratic endorsement for governor. North Dakota Democrats will pick their favored candidate at the state party's March convention in Grand Forks.

By tradition, convention delegates choose the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor. Taylor said he expected that to continue, although he said he wanted to pick his own preferred candidate before the convention begins.

Taylor declined to name any favorites. Some possibilities include Cheryl Bergian, a Fargo attorney who has run twice for North Dakota public service commissioner; Kristin Hedger, a Dickinson businesswoman and former Democratic candidate for secretary of state; and Jackie Stebbins, a Bismarck lawyer who is vice chairwoman of the state Democratic Party.

Taylor announced his candidacy Monday in a brief statement that was distributed to news outlets. He said he planned to hold a statewide announcement tour in early January.

He ranches near Towner, a community east of Minot in north-central North Dakota, and writes a newspaper column called Cowboy Logic.

Should Taylor run for governor this fall, he will lose his Senate seat. He won another four-year term in 2010, but a Republican-drawn legislative redistricting plan put Taylor into the same district as incumbent Sen. David O'Connell, D-Lansford, whom Taylor succeeded as minority leader.

The redistricting gambit means an election must be held next year in the newly drawn district.

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