Wayne Stenehjem, North Dakota’s longest-serving AG, dies

Jan 28, 2022, 7:00 PM | Updated: 8:06 pm

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, a former legislator and the state’s longest-serving attorney general, died at age 68, his office announced Friday, just hours after he was taken to a hospital.

Stenehjem died about 6:20 p.m. at a Bismarck hospital, his spokeswoman Liz Brocker said. She said she could not provide additional details, including his cause of death.

Stenehjem’s brother, Allan, told KFYR-TV that Stenehjem had been taken to a hospital Friday morning after a medical call to his home. Allan Stenehjem told KFYR that his brother had been dealing with an ulcer that may have become inflamed, but he later told the Bismarck Tribune that his brother had no known health issues that might have caused his hospitalization, and that his brother’s condition was not related to COVID-19.

Stenehjem spent 24 years in the Legislature before being elected attorney general in 2000, then winning five more times. In that long career, he supported an overhaul of North Dakota’s court system, laws against domestic violence, consumer protection measures and legislation to keep North Dakota’s government meetings and records open to the public.

Gov. Doug Burgum said his fellow Republican “embodied public service” both as a legislator and as the longest-serving attorney general in the state.

“Like so many North Dakotans who treasured his friendship and admired him for his more than four decades of exceptional service to our state, we are absolutely devastated” by Stenehjem’s death, Burgum said in a statement.

Stenehjem had announced last month he would not seek another term. He said he wanted to spend more time traveling and with his family. He echoed concerns from several other retiring politicians about an increase in vitriolic social media criticism of politicians.

Stenehjem told the Tribune at the time that fighting illegal drugs was a top challenge of his tenure. Among his proudest accomplishments, he cited getting a $30 million settlement following a diesel spill in Mandan in 1985, establishing a 24/7 sobriety program for people convicted of subsequent DUIs, establishing the state crime lab and improving the training of state crime bureau agents.

Stenehjem ran for governor in 2016 and was his party’s choice to replace Jack Dalrymple, who didn’t seek a second term. But Burgum, a wealthy former Microsoft executive, bucked party tradition to challenge him and won the primary easily, then went on to win the general election.

The intraparty battle between Burgum and Stenehjem featured a spirited and expensive debate about which candidate was better suited to revive a state economy that was slumping due to depressed oil and crop prices.

Burgum tried to paint Stenehjem as part of an establishment that had done a poor job at managing money and put the state’s future in doubt. Stenehjem argued that North Dakota was well-positioned to handle the downturn in oil and farm prices and the state needed an experienced hand at the helm.

Stenehjem was born in Mohall. He attended high school in Bismarck and graduated from the University of North Dakota and received his law degree from the UND School of Law in 1977.

Survivors include his wife, Beth Bakke Stenehjem, and a son, Andrew. Funeral arrangements were pending at Bismarck Funeral Home.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


This image provided by the Erie County District Attorney's Office shows Payton Gendron.  While law ...
Associated Press

Accused Buffalo gunman followed familiar radicalization path

The 18-year-old gunman accused of a deadly racist rampage at a Buffalo supermarket seems to fit an all-too-familiar profile: an aggrieved white man steeped in hate-filled conspiracies online, and inspired by other extremist massacres. Payton Gendron of Conklin, N.Y., appears to have been driven to action roughly two years from when his radical indoctrination began, […]
15 hours ago
President Joe Biden speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Friday, May 13, 202...
Associated Press

Abbott says agreement reached to reopen baby formula plant

WASHINGTON (AP) — Infant formula maker Abbott says it’s reached an agreement with U.S. health officials to restart production at its largest domestic factory, a key step toward easing a nationwide shortage tied to the plant’s shutdown earlier this year. Abbott did not immediately detail the terms of the agreement reached with the Food and […]
15 hours ago
Associated Press

Wyoming senator booed for sex identity remarks at graduation

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis apologized Monday after getting booed and heckled for remarks she made on sexual identity during a University of Wyoming graduation speech. A first-term Republican from deep-red Wyoming, Lummis said in Saturday’s speech in Laramie that human rights are derived from God but that government seeks to redefine […]
15 hours ago
Associated Press

Celebrated literary mag The Believer back to original owner

NEW YORK (AP) — After a journey even the creative minds at The Believer could not have imagined, the celebrated literary magazine is back in business and again being run by the company which first owned it. Founded in 2003 by the writers Heidi Julavits, Ed Park, and Vendela Vida, The Believer has published works […]
15 hours ago
Associated Press

GOP lawmakers steered probe into intoxicated state senators

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota Senate Republicans in a private 2020 meeting planned how to achieve an already-negotiated outcome to a committee investigating a pair of lawmakers for being intoxicated during legislative proceedings even before the committee had a chance to meet, according to a television report. A transcript of the April 2020 […]
15 hours ago
President Joe Biden arrives at Delaware Air National Guard Base in New Castle, Del., Friday, May 13...
Associated Press

In Buffalo, Biden to confront the racism he’s vowed to fight

WASHINGTON (AP) — When Joe Biden talks about his decision to run against President Donald Trump in 2020, the story always starts with Charlottesville. He says it was the men with torches shouting bigoted slogans that drove him to join what he calls the “battle for the soul of America.” Now Biden is facing the […]
15 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

By Dr. Richard Carmona

Now’s a great time to receive your COVID-19 vaccine

If you haven’t received a COVID-19 vaccine yet, now’s the time to join many other of your fellow Arizonans who are doing so right now. No one will criticize you; there is no shame. In fact, you’ll be welcomed with smiles and open arms!

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to in April

April brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Suns and Diamondbacks.

In Sonoran heat, prevent costly AC repairs with an annual tune-up

As winter has finally passed and the days are becoming warmer, now is a good time to be sure your AC unit is polished and ready to run.
Wayne Stenehjem, North Dakota’s longest-serving AG, dies