Plain Talk With Rob Port-logo

Plain Talk With Rob Port

News & Politics Podcasts

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

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


United States


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








330: North Dakota's regional haze debate and a Fargo City Commission candidate

When it comes to regulating air quality - both in terms of health and cosmetic measures like visibility - North Dakota does an excellent job. We have some of the cleanest air in the nation. Ours is one of only four states to have never violated a federal air quality standard protecting health or the environment. We've been building on that excellent record too. "Since 2002, total emissions from coal-powered electricity generation plants in North Dakota were reduced by 102,000 tons of sulfur...


329: Sen. Cramer talks Roe v. Wade, January 6, food shortages, and Ukraine

Minot, N.D. — Will the U.S. Supreme Court strike down the Roe v. Wade precedent and make bans on abortions constitutional again? Will the federal government create new law regarding abortion, either codifying it as legal or creating national restrictions? And what are the political ramifications for all this? Sen. Kevin Cramer discussed these issues on this episode of Plain Talk. He also reacted to my recent interview with New York Times reporter Jonathan Martin whose new book contains...


328: NY Times reporter previews new book, and a discussion of the political implications of ending Roe

On January 6, as rioters were infiltrating the U.S. Capitol building, New York Times reporter Jonathan Martin was in the building with many of our national leaders like Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Kevin Cramer. He and co-author Alexander Burns tell that story in a new book, just released this week, called "This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America's Future." Martin spoke with co-host Chad Oban and I about what it was like to watch some of our nation's most recognizable...


327: Nobel laureate says Biden canceling Keystone pipeline was "symbol" that led to higher gas prices

When President Joe Biden, as one of his first moves in office, canceled the Keystone XL pipeline it was "a symbol" for the oil and gas industry that the political situation would be hostile to them in the coming years. That lead them to curtail their investments in new production capacity, something that, per Smith, speaking on this episode of Plain Talk, is now contributing to higher fuel prices and a higher cost of living for Americans. Cheap energy is of enormous interest, not just to...


326: Landowners want a better deal on the Midwest Carbon Express pipeline

Carbon capture and storage is a big deal for North Dakota. Not just because our state's economy is dominated by commodity-based industries - energy and agriculture - that emit a lot of carbon, but because the geology under our feet lends itself to storing captured carbon. There are billions in investments lined across several projects to not only capture and store carbon emitted in our state, but to bring carbon from other parts of the world here for storage as well. One of the first major...


325: A conservative North Dakota lawmaker talks about her struggles with the culture warriors

Minot, N.D. — Sen. Jessica Bell, a Republican from District 33, has a lengthy track record of reliably conservative policy making in the North Dakota Senate, which includes her consequential work to save a coal-fired power plant that employs, directly and indirectly, thousands of her constituents. Yet the delegates at the NDGOP's local district convention didn't endorse her for re-election. Instead they endorsed a man named Keith Boehm, who campaigned against Bell based on her votes against...


324: Shouldn't a constitutional amendment require 60 percent of the vote?

North Dakota's initiated measure process has become a venue for deep-pocketed special interests to hire local fronts, pay mercenaries to collect signatures, and then pound their issues into the heads of voters with big-money marketing campaigns. What was intended to empower grassroots activists to keep state government honest has turned into a shortcut for political professionals to pretty much bypass the rigors and scrutiny of the legislative process. It is in this context that a new...


323: Fargo commission candidate says mayor's emails to detectives crossed "ethical boundaries"

Minot, N.D. — Ves Marinov serves the state of North Dakota as a member of the Highway Patrol. He's also a citizen of Fargo who is running for a city on the city's commission. He's campaigning on a platform of addressing crime, eliminating special assessments, moving the city to a ward system for its elected leaders, and making the city more efficient. But it's that first issue, given his day job, that Marinov, a new American from Bulgaria who immigrated in 2003, is most passionate...


322: A new campaign to legalize marijuana in North Dakota

Medical marijuana is legal in North Dakota, having been approved by voters by way of a ballot measure. Recreational marijuana, however, has taken a rockier road. Multiple ballot measure campaigns have failed in the past. House Bill 1420, considered during the last legislative session, and which would have also implemented legalization of non-medical use of marijuana, also failed. But the proponents of legalization are giving it another shot, and this time they're perhaps more organized...


321: Is approval voting drawing out more candidates?

Ben Hanson made an interesting point on this episode of Plain Talk. He's a former state lawmaker and candidate for the Cass County Commission, facing off against Tony Grindberg, who is another former state lawmaker. His race won't be settled by approval voting, but he lives in Fargo where approval voting is used for local races. Fargo has a lot of candidates running for mayor and the city commission, and Hanson wonders if approval voting, where voters cast a ballot for multiple preferred...


320: "Innovation over regulation"

"We all take it for granted," says Sheri Haugen-Hoffart, talking about energy that's reliably available and cost effective. She's running for the Public Service Commission, and she's the incumbent, only not really. She was appointed to the PSC by Gov. Doug Burgum a couple of months ago to replace Brian Kroshus who is now the Tax Commissioner. She's new to the job, in other words, though not to the area of public policy the PSC deals with. She was the first female board chair in history for...


319: No politics, just baseball, because it's opening day!

I'm a baseball nerd. And a political nerd. And as a person with a foot in both of those worlds, I can say that there's a lot of overlap between the two. There's just something about baseball that appeals to people who are also deeply interested in politics. Anyway, today is opening day for baseball, so on this episode of Plain Talk, three political nerds - Congressman Kelly Armstrong, my frequent co-host Chad Oban, and me, of course - take off their political hats and put on their baseball...


318: 'We can't win as the old Democratic party of the past'

Minot, N.D. — "I would not vote for Nancy Pelosi" to be Speaker of the House. So says Mark Haugen, who received the North Dakota Democratic-NPL's endorsement at their state convention in Minot last month, and is currently running unopposed in the primary. He's far from a cookie-cutter progressive candidate for the Dems. He's pro-life, for one, at a time when it's hard to find any Democrats anywhere who aren't categorically in favor of abortion. He's also like to see more moderate and...


317: Wrapping up the NDGOP convention

After all the Sturm und Drang, all the attack ads and recriminations, incumbent Senator John Hoeven bested Rick Becker in the North Dakota Republican Party's Senate primary. On this Plain Talk, Chad Oban and I wrap up what happened, and talked about what it might mean for the NDGOP and North Dakota politics going forward.


316: Can Ed Schafer reunite North Dakota Republicans?

"The problem we've gotten into are the tactics being used," says former North Dakota Governor Ed Schafer. Schafer will be delivering a speech at what is expected to be an NDGOP state convention marked by factionalism and resentments, and his hope is to inspire delegates to find a sense of unity. This year marks the 30 year anniversary of Schafer's election, which ushered in the era of Republican dominance that thousands and thousands of North Dakotans grew up with. On this episode of Plain...


315: Not your typical Democratic candidate in North Dakota

"There are some problems within the Democratic party in North Dakota that we need to fix." That's according to Trygve Hammer, a Marine veteran from Velva who just accepted the Democratic-NPL's endorsement to campaign for a seat on the Public Service Commission. He spoke about his candidacy on this episode of Plain Talk - he'll be running against Republican Sheri Haugen-Hoffart who was just appointed by Gov. Doug Burgum - and he doesn't sound like your typical Democratic candidate. He's...


314: North Dakota's Sierra Club is not against carbon capture pipeline

The Sierra Club in other states, such as Iowa, is opposed to the Carbon Express pipeline, but not in North Dakota. They're not against it. They're also not for it. "If we voted, we would probably vote to oppose it," Dr. Dexter Perkins, a member of the North Dakota chapter of the high-profile environmental activist group, told me on this Plain Talk. Perkins, who is also a geologist at the University of North Dakota, says he's skeptical that the pipeline will work, but he and his group are...


313: Wrapping up the 2022 Democratic-NPL state convention

It's over folks. The North Dakota Democrats have selected candidates for two Public Service Commission seats, Attorney General, U.S. House and U.S. Senate. They left campaigns for Tax Commissioner and Secretary of State unfilled. On this episode of Plain Talk, I talk with my regular co-host Chad Oban, a former executive director of the party, about the good, the bad, and the ugly.


312: Cramer says he's undecided on Judge Jackson for Supreme Court, talks Ukraine and energy

Minot, N.D. — It was a busy episode of Plain Talk today. Sen. Kevin Cramer joined to discuss everything from the reason why he endorsed incumbent Sen. John Hoeven over challenger Rick Becker (he said Hoeven was not only his colleague but also his "mentor), the war in Ukraine (he says Biden is doing many of the right things, only he's doing them too late), energy (there's "nothing moral" about exporting our climate guilt), and the Supreme Court nomination battle. On that last issue, Cramer...


311: How in the world did they screw up term limits?

A ballot measure aimed at implementing term limits in North Dakota for the governor and members of the legislature hit the skids when the Secretary of State's office disqualified tens of thousands of signatures. How did a political campaign screw up an issue that, all else aside, is almost certainly popular with most North Dakotans? My co-host Chad Oban and I talked about it on this episode of Plain Talk with House Minority Leader Josh Boschee, a Democrat from Fargo. Boschee said he's...