WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published November 04, 2010, 09:38 AM

Dalrymple Names Wrigley as New Lieutenant Governor

Former North Dakota U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley has been named as the state's new lieutenant governor.

By: Associated Press,

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Lt. Gov. Jack Dalrymple said Thursday that Drew Wrigley, a former U.S. attorney, state Republican Party director and aide to Gov. John Hoeven, will replace him next month when he succeeds Hoeven as North Dakota's governor.

The shuffle will take place Dec. 7, on the second day of the North Dakota Legislature's organizational session. Hoeven, who becomes North Dakota's newest U.S. senator next month, said Thursday he plans to resign and turn the governorship over to Dalrymple at midday.

A ceremony during a joint session of the House and Senate is tentatively planned, during which Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle will swear in Dalrymple as governor.

Dalrymple will deliver his budget recommendations to the Legislature the following day, just before the organizational session ends. Lawmakers begin their regular session Jan. 4.

Dalrymple announced Thursday his choice of Wrigley as his own successor. Since Wrigley finished eight years as North Dakota's U.S. attorney in August 2009, he has been a vice president at Noridian Administrative Services LLC, of Fargo, which administers Medicare claims in a number of states.

North Dakota's governor is paid $110,285 annually. The lieutenant governor is paid $85,615. Their salaries are set by the Legislature.

Thursday's events were set in motion Tuesday, when Hoeven was elected to the U.S. Senate, defeating Democratic challenger Tracy Potter with 76 percent of the vote. Hoeven will succeed Democrat Byron Dorgan, who did not run for his fourth Senate term.

Dalrymple said that since Hoeven declared his Senate candidacy, he has been fielding regular inquiries about the possibility that he would become governor and have to pick his own replacement. He said he and Wrigley spoke regularly about the prospect, and that he asked Wrigley on Election Day if he would serve. Wrigley accepted.

"There was only one person that rose to the top and truly rung all the bells, met all of the qualifications, and all of the things that I think people would really like to see in a lieutenant governor," Dalrymple said Thursday during a news conference in the Capitol's Memorial Hall. "This was a finalist among finalists."

Wrigley said he had "butterflies of excitement" at the prospect of serving as lieutenant governor. He begins work in Hoeven's office Nov. 15 to start preparing for his new job, almost a decade after he resigned as Hoeven's deputy chief of staff to become North Dakota's U.S. attorney.

"I remember well how hard they work here," Wrigley said. "I'm looking forward to it. It's a privilege."

Dalrymple said he had not decided whether to seek his own term as governor in 2012, but hinted broadly that he would run. Wrigley said he wanted to stay on the ticket if Dalrymple makes his own bid for governor.

A native of Bismarck, the 45-year-old Wrigley grew up in Fargo and graduated from Fargo South High School. He is an alumnus of the University of North Dakota and American University's law school in Washington, D.C. His family founded and operates Wrigley Mechanical Inc. of Fargo, which installs and repairs boilers, heating and air conditioning systems and pollution control equipment.

Wrigley was a prosecutor for five years in the Philadelphia district attorney's office before he returned to North Dakota in 1998. After a short stint as general counsel for North Dakota's workers' compensation agency, Wrigley became director of the North Dakota Republican Party in April 1999.

Wrigley held the GOP director's job during the 2000 campaign, when Hoeven and Dalrymple won their first term in office. Wrigley was hired afterward as Hoeven's deputy chief of staff, and worked in the governor's office until November 2001, when the U.S. Senate confirmed Wrigley as North Dakota's U.S. attorney.

As North Dakota's top federal prosecutor, Wrigley was best known for his prosecution of Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., of Crookston, Minn., who was convicted of kidnapping and causing the death of University of North Dakota student Dru Sjodin in 2003. The abduction of Sjodin, who was taken from the parking lot of a Grand Forks shopping mall, prompted more stringent laws against sex offenders.

Rodriguez was sentenced to death in 2006. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Rodriguez' appeal.