North Dakota`s Historic Gubernatorial Power Shift | VideoBrian Howell | 11/8/2010
It`s been 75 years since a sitting governor has left office, and the State Historical Society of North Dakota said the current transition of power taking place in the governor`s office is one for the record books.
"Four times in the history of the state, going back 121 years since statehood, we`ve had a lieutenant governor succeed a governor, but never voluntarily," said Rick Collin, with the State Historical Society of North Dakota.
Gov. Frank Briggs, R-N.D., who took office in early 1897, was the first to go.
"For a longtime, he had been struggling with what was then called consumption, tuberculosis, and shortly before his 40th birthday, he died in the summer of 1898, into his first term, finishing up his first term, actually, just a few months left," said Collin.
Next came Gov. Arthur Sorlie, R-N.D., who didn`t make it through his second term.
"Back then, governors served two-year terms and Arthur Sorely died in the summer of 1928, of a heart attack. He was only 54 years old," said Collin.
North Dakota politics then got really interesting with the next two governors, beginning with Gov. William "Wild Bill" Langer, R-N.D., who left office in 1934.
"He was convicted of a felony, for soliciting financial, political contributions, from employees who were working for the federal government who were here in North Dakota. Because he was a convicted felon, he was removed from office," said Collin.
The last to go was Gov. Thomas Moodie, D-N.D., just a few months later in 1935.
"There was a residency issue. Turns out he had voted in an election in Minnesota a couple years earlier. Well, you have to have been a resident of North Dakota at least 5 years solid, and that came out after he took over as governor, so he was forced to resign the office," said Collin.
Another interesting tidbit: When Dalrymple appoints Drew Wrigley to succeed him in the lieutenant governor`s office, it will be the second time in state history that a governor appoints a lieutenant governor.
The first was back in 1987, when Gov. George Sinner, D-N.D., appointed Lloyd Omdahl, D-N.D., to replace North Dakota`s first female lieutenant governor, Ruth Meiers, D-N.D., who died in office.