Towner rancher chosen as new Senate Dem leader

BISMARCK—The state’s new Senate minority leader said communication is going to be key as his party enters a rebuilding stage.

Ryan Taylor, 40, of Towner was elected to serve as the Democrats’ top leader in the state Senate. The rancher, who has served in the Senate since 2003, replaces Sen. Dave O’Connell, D-Lansford, for the post. O’Connell opted to not run for a fifth term.

Taylor said there will be challenges with 12 Democrats in the Senate compared to 35 Republicans. However, he takes an optimistic look at what his party can bring to the table during the 2011 legislative session.

“I think good government is most functional when you do have two points of an issue, two sides of a point to keep everyone honest,” Taylor said. “We need to have other people being in the opposition to look at things, shining a light on things, providing some transparency.”

Taylor emphasized the need to represent the voters who elected them and said all legislators have the ability to pass a bill.

“You don’t always get your name on it, but you get to advance the issue,” he said.

Taylor will be assisted by Sen. Mac Schneider of Grand Forks, who replaces Sen. Carolyn Nelson of Fargo for the post. Nelson did not run for re-election.

Sens. Bob Stenehjem of Bismarck and Randy Christmann of Hazen were re-elected to their Republican leadership positions.