Gov. John Hoeven (R-ND), the GOP frontrunner to win the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan, has an interesting wrinkle in his political history: When he first got into politics 14 years ago, he proclaimed himself to be a Democrat -- and strongly denied any implication that he was a Republican.
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The North Decoder blog dug up a letter that Hoeven wrote to a local newspaper in 1996. At the time, Hoeven was president of North Dakota's state-run bank, and was eyeing a possible run for governor, which he ultimately did as a Republican in 2000. "I have always been moderate in my political views, but now that I am considering elective office, I realize I must join a political party and stick to it," Hoeven wrote in 1996. "I have decided to join the Democratic-NPL Party because I believe that is the best fit for my views."
Also in his 1996 letter, Hoeven strongly rejected the suggestion that he could be a Republican: "What people don't want is partisan politics as usual. The effort by overly partisan members of the Republican Party to cast me as one of their own is just that, partisan politics as usual." So we asked Hoeven's campaign manager, why did he end up becoming a Republican instead?