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Arthur Albert Link (born May 24, 1914) was a politician for the North Dakota Democratic Party, and later the Democratic-NPL. He was elected as a one-term congressman in 1970 and as Governor of North Dakota in 1972, and served two terms until 1981. As of 2009, he is 95 years old, which makes him the longest lived Governor of North Dakotamarker to date. Link is one of six past or present living governors of the state.

Biography

Link was born in Alexandermarker, North Dakotamarker. He attended the McKenzie County schools, and North Dakota Agricultural Collegemarker. He was elected to the North Dakota House of Representatives in 1946 as a Democrat, serving fourteen years as minority floor leader and speaker of the house, 1965. He was also a member of the Randolph Township Board, 1942-1972; McKenzie County Welfare Board, 1948-1969; Randolph School Board, 1945-1963; county and State Farm Security Administration committee, 1941-1946; and delegate, North Dakota State conventions, 1964-1968.

In 1970, Link was persuaded to run for U.S. Congress from the western district of North Dakota, a job with little security as it appeared certain the state would be consolidated into a single congressional district after the census. He was elected as a Dem-NPLer to the Ninety-second Congress (January 3, 1971-January 3, 1973); was not a candidate for reelection in 1972 but was a successful candidate for Governor of North Dakota; reelected in 1976 and served from January 2, 1973, until January 7, 1981.

Link was well liked and well respected as a governor. Those of all political persuasions found common ground with him. Some considered him a social conservative who was staunchly pro-life, deeply religious and willing to stand for principle even when political wisdom dictated otherwise, vetoing a bill to lower the state drinking age to 19 years and providing leadership against legalizing gambling in the state. Others viewed him as a moderate as he was also astute fiscally, managing to avoid raising taxes of one of the poorer states in the nation. Still others saw him as a progressive, since he was still able to maintain and grow an excellent education system with affordable universities and students who consistently achieve some of the top test scores in the United States.

He was also a leader among governors from neighboring states. When the western United States suffered a severe drought in the mid-1970s, and other western governors called for Federal Aid, Link called for a day of fasting and prayer instead. By coincidence, rain followed and Federal Aid in North Dakota became a non-issue.

Even his political opponents could find little to criticize about his governing style. Some in his own party considered him too religious, too ethical, too colorless and too unwilling to compromise for the sake of political expediency. Nevertheless, he was nominated to run for a third term. He narrowly lost re-election in 1980 only due to a perfect storm of circumstances working against him, namely (1) a tradition of turnover in the governor's office (only Link's immediate predecessor in the office had served more than six years), (2) continuous occupation of the governor's mansion since 1961 by Dem-NPLers in a solidly Republican state, (3) a highly unpopular President Jimmy Carter running for re-election at the top of the ticket, (4) a highly popular opponent Ronald Reagan running on the Republican side, (5) a national feeling of pessimism brought about by the Iran hostage crisis and an unprecedented combination of double-digit unemployment, inflation and gas lines, even though North Dakota fared far better than most other places in the United States.

Later life

After his defeat for re-election, Link remained active in public life, leading a successful fight against a state lottery in 1984. He also remained a strong force for historical preservation and writing of local histories. He and his wife Grace, now live in Bismarck North Dakota. A movie was made of their lives in 2008, entitled: "When the Landscape is Quiet Again".

He is fondly remembered by North Dakotans and former North Dakotans, Dem-NPLers and Republicans alike as one of the best governors the state ever enjoyed. Ironically, the Democratic-NPL, able to elect only one governor since Link vacated the office in 1981, have maintained all seats in the state's federal congressional delegation in Washington since 1987, every member of whom served during the Link Administration.

In 2008 a Film Documentary was released and reflects the life and times of Governor Link's political career. More information can be found at artlinklegacy.com.

References

Notes

  1. http://history.nd.gov/exhibits/governors/governors27.html



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