604 episodes

Plain Talk is a podcast hosted by Rob Port and Chad Oban focusing on political news and current events in North Dakota. Port is a columnist for the Forum News Service published in papers including the Fargo Forum, Grand Forks Herald, Jamestown Sun, and the Dickinson Press. Oban is a long-time political consultant.

Plain Talk Forum Communications Co.

    • News
    • 3.4 • 62 Ratings

Plain Talk is a podcast hosted by Rob Port and Chad Oban focusing on political news and current events in North Dakota. Port is a columnist for the Forum News Service published in papers including the Fargo Forum, Grand Forks Herald, Jamestown Sun, and the Dickinson Press. Oban is a long-time political consultant.

    504: Coal industry endorses Fedorchak

    504: Coal industry endorses Fedorchak

    U.S. House candidate Rick Becker recently took the unusual step of paying internet personality and trans rights activist Dylan Mulvaney to record a message praising the energy record of his primary rival, Public Service Commisisoner Julie Fedorchak.
    The message was done tongue-in-cheek -- though it hasn't sat well with some elements of the MAGA movement who take exception to Becker working with Mulvaney in even a joking way -- but Becker used it to attack Fedorchak's record on coal issues.
    "What’s not a laughing matter is how time and again Julie Fedorchack placed radical green energy proposals above the coal industry here in North Dakota," he wrote.
    That may have been a mistake. North Dakota's coal industry noticed Becker's stunt, and it has prompted them to endorse Fedorchak in the race.
    "That is a statement I can't even wrap my head around," Jason Bohrer, the president of the North Dakota Lignite Energy Council and chair of Lignite's political action committee, said on this episode of Plain Talk. "I don't understand where that statement comes from," he added.
    Bohrer told me and co-host Chad Oban that Lignite doesn't typically endorse in partisan primaries, but they feel this situation is different. "This is a place where we have to be clear," Bohrer said. "We do support Julie."
    He made it clear that the organization is endorsing Fedorchak in the race.
    Bohrer said he didn't want to spend a lot of time "attacking" Becker's record on coal issues while serving in the Legislature, but he did say that Becker "has never been supportive" of the industry's priorities on research and development.
    "We had a group of legislators we would go to for those things," Bohrer added. "He wasn't in it."
    Also on this episode, state Rep. Michelle Strinden, who is running for Lt. Governor alongside gubernatorial candidate Kelly Armstrong, took questions about being chosen as a running mate, the state of the race, and top issues like education and property taxes.
    Want to subscribe to Plain Talk? Search for the show wherever you get your podcasts, or click here for more information.

    • 1 hr 1 min
    503: 'Absolutely underhanded and unethical'

    503: 'Absolutely underhanded and unethical'

    A civil war is playing out in the North Dakota Republican Party between traditionally conservative Republicans and MAGA-aligned populists. One front in that war is the NDGOP's legislative primaries, where a group called Citizens Alliance of North Dakota is trying to defeat traditional Republicans.
    State Rep. Brandon Prichard, a Republican from Bismarck, is the executive director of Citizens Alliance. His group has been sending mailers to voters suggesting that its preferred candidates in the primaries are backed by incumbents who do not support actually them.
    One of the candidates targeted by these tactics, Rep. Jeremy Olson, a first-termer from District 26 who is seeking another term in the state House, joined this episode of Plain Talk. He called Prichard's tactics "absolutely underhanded and unethical.
    Also, on this episode, guest co-host Ben Hanson and I and discuss former Fargo Mayor Jon Lindgren's argument that Gov. Doug Burgum is seeking to be disgraced former President Donald Trump's runningmate for the sake of being a moderating influence.
    Want to subscribe to Plain Talk? Search for the show wherever you get your podcasts, or click here for more information.

    • 1 hr 3 min
    502: 'I'm the only candidate that has consistently been a Republican'

    502: 'I'm the only candidate that has consistently been a Republican'

    "I like debates," Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorhcak told me and co-host Chad Oban on this episode of Plain Talk.
    Fedorchak has come under fire from some of her opponents in the Republican U.S. House primary. Three of them — Rick Becker, Cara Mund, and Alex Balazs — participated in a recent debate sponsored by BEK Television. Fedorchak did not. "Last weekend was a balancing act," she said, noting that she's already participated in one debate with her opponents, with two more planned. She told us that the night of the debate was also her son's graduation party.
    "I wanted to devote my attention to my son on Friday night," she said.
    Fedorchak also responded to a recent independent poll I reported on, which shows her in a dead heat with Becker in the race (Mund is trailing as a distant third). She said she got into the race late and had a deficit in name identification with voters but that the poll "shows that we closed the gap" with Becker.
    She added that she feels confident about her position in the race. "I'm the only candidate who has consistently been a Republican," she said, referencing the fact that both Mund and Becker campaigned against Republicans as independents last cycle.
    "I have strong favorability in the polling we've seen," she added.
    That's something Dean Mitchell of DFM Research, who conducted the survey for North Dakota United, spoke about as well in a separate interview. Mitchell said the House race is tight but favors Fedorchak. "I'd rather not be Becker," he said. "I think he's at his ceiling. I think she (Fedorchak) has more room for growth."
    "I'd give the edge to Fedorchak," he added, though he acknowledged that the race is very close. "I wouldn't put much money on it."
    The NDU poll also covered the gubernatorial race, showing current U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong with a 38-point lead over Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller, a nearly identical result to numbers released to me by the Armstrong campaign from a contemporaneous poll.
    "I don't want to say you can put a fork in it," Mitchell said, "but the silverware is on the table."
    To subscribe to Plain Talk, search for the show wherever you get your podcasts, or click here for more information.

    • 57 min
    501: Anti-Becker mailers and governor's race polling

    501: Anti-Becker mailers and governor's race polling

    Pat Finken is a long-time political consultant in North Dakota who now heads up an independent political action committee called the Brighter Future Alliance. Finken and his group have come under fire from U.S. House candidate Rick Becker and his allies for mailers attacking Becker and his voting record.
    Finken joined this episode of Plain Talk my me and my co-host Chad Oban, and said his goal is to reveal for the public that Becker is a "show pony."
    "He is not a serious legislator," Finken added. As for Becker's response to his group's mailers? "This is what all politicians do when someone criticizes them," Finken said. "They play the victim."
    Becker has disputed Finken's assertions that, by voting against budgets for the North Dakota Highway Patrol and the North Dakota National Guard, he opposes law enforcement and the military. He argues that it's possible to object to a budget without objecting to what that budget funds.
    But Finken says the difference is that Becker was only voting no, not working to improve those budgets. "He didn't come back with an alternative," Finken said.
    "If he was a serious legislator he would have worked to make changes," he added.
    Also, on this episode, Oban and I discuss the recent polling released in the Republican guberantorial primary showing U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong with a massive lead over Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller.
    Want to subscribe to Plain Talk? Search for the show wherever you get your podcasts, or click here for more information.

    • 1 hr 3 min
    500: A renewed legal battle over redistricting and teacher pay

    500: A renewed legal battle over redistricting and teacher pay

    The State of North Dakota is back in court over redistricting. This time, the state is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a lower court decision that the state had previously argued for. Specifically, the dismissal of a lawsuit questioning the constitutionality of legislative subdistricts created by lawmakers in an attempt to enhance the state's Native American vote in two districts.
    The courts ended up striking down that map anyway and replacing it with a new one, but this separate legal action questions whether creating subdistricts in just two districts passes muster under the 14th amendment's equal protection provisions.
    Is it constitutional for some North Dakotans to vote for just two members of the Legislature on election day, while others get to vote for three?
    Robert Harms, an attorney (and a Republican candidate for the state Senate in District 2) joined this episode of Plain Talk to discuss the case.
    Also on this episode, Nick Archuleta, the president of North Dakota United, joined to discuss a recent study looking at teacher pay which indicates that North Dakota is moving down the rankings in terms of average salaries for educators.
    To subscribe to Plain Talk, search for the show wherever you get your podcasts, or click here for more information.

    • 1 hr 3 min
    499: 'I don't look for racism'

    499: 'I don't look for racism'

    Racial incidents keep happening at North Dakota school events.
    At basketball games. Proms. Hockey games. Part of the problem is, we don't know if they're happening more, or less. Maybe we're just noticing them more now that everyone has a smartphone in their pocket and the ability to document the taunts and jeers and boorish behavior.
    State Rep. Jayme Davis is a Democrat from District 9a, which covers the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation. In the state House of Representatives, she's the minority caucus leader. She wants to do something about this problem.
    "I don't look for racism. That's not something I look for in my daily life," she said on this episode of Plain Talk. "But it shows up."
    During the 2023 session, Davis introduced a resolution calling for a study of racial incidents at North Dakota school events. It passed, but the the Legislature's interim committees chose not to take it up. But she says she's not going to stop trying. She'd like to see data collected about these incidents, to measure the scope of the problem, and she'd also liked to see more training for the state's educators, sports officials, and even lawmakers.
    Also on this episode, are North Dakota's political leaders being too tough on electric vehicles? And what was with South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem bragging about killing a dog? Me and co-host Chad Oban discuss.
    Want to subscribe to Plain Talk? Search for the show wherever you get your podcasts, or click here for more information.

    • 1 hr 7 min

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5
62 Ratings

62 Ratings

LaxGuy21 ,

Good for local ND politics.

I like that Rob brings in co-hosts with different political views than his own to discuss local ND politics. It makes for a nice discussion that isn’t always one sided. Don’t always agree with Rob’s views, but find his take informative.

booooda1 ,

A Disappointing Echo Chamber

I approached this podcast expecting thoughtful political discourse but found myself deeply disappointed. It primarily serves as an echo chamber, heavily favoring a single perspective and discouraging the exploration of diverse viewpoints. The content lacks depth, with both host and guests offering analysis that feels superficial and unenlightened. This lack of rigor and the absence of deep, meaningful discussions significantly undermines the podcast’s value. Moreover, technical issues such as poor audio quality detract from the listening experience. Overall, the podcast falls short of delivering the insightful and balanced conversation promised, with subpar performances by the host and guests alike.

Silkpop ,

Would stay away in general

Generally biased point of view. His talking points generally align with extremist right wing agenda masquerading under a thin veil of non partisanship. He picks and chooses his “guests” to further a specific agenda he already has. Not worth your time

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