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Quentin Burdick Won Six Statewide Elections

Posted 3/20/17 (Mon)

 

The son of Congressman Usher Burdick, Quentin Burdick was the first Democrat in North Dakota to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. His election in 1958 made the Democratic-Nonpartisan League Party a competitive player in North Dakota politics and helped define the Democratic-NPL Party of the mid-to-late 20th Century. Two years later, he won a close election against Governor John Davis for the open seat in the U.S. Senate vacated by the 1959 death of legendary William “Wild Bill” Langer.

The Gentle Warrior is an insightful biography of this legendary figure in North Dakota politics, based on interviews author Dan Rylance conducted with Burdick, his family, Senate colleagues and many North Dakotans. 

He earned the nickname the "King of Pork" for focusing much of his legislative efforts on delivering federal funds to North Dakota. For the first 20 of his 32 years in the Senate, he served with Milton Young representing North Dakota. “We have a good relationship,” Young said shortly before his retirement in 1981. “The North Dakota National Guard and the North Dakota State Society in Washington held a reception for me (in 1980). About 15 Senators came – even Edmund Muskie, who was then Secretary of State. Senator Burdick had invited them all to come and he introduced them. He even mentioned that I had defeated him once (in 1956).”

That 1956 race was the last one Burdick lost (“Burdick took after me every day in that election,” said Young) as he was easily re-elected five times before his death at the age of 84 in 1992.

 

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