Senate leader quitting after 32 years in state Legislature

December 15, 2021 GMT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The North Dakota Senate majority leader said Wednesday he’s following through on a decision he made three years ago to retire from the state Legislature after more than three decades of service.

Republican Sen. Rich Wardner, 79, of Dickinson, was first elected to the state House of Representatives in 1990. He moved over to the Senate in 1998 and was elected majority leader in 2011.

The retired teacher and coach said the official announcement is a “bittersweet day” but he is proud of the “many goals” he has accomplished. He specifically cited numerous energy and education bills, behavior health issues and two infrastructure bills, one for massive improvements in the oil patch and another to fund statewide projects with oil tax revenue.

“I have worked hard to help improve the quality of life for all North Dakotans, and I have fought tirelessly for conservative values,” Warner said.

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U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong, a Dickinson resident and former state lawmaker, said Warner’s “steadfast leadership” has made North Dakota a better place.

“I hope he enjoys some well-deserved downtime,” Armstrong said. “He has most definitely earned it.”

Another longtime Republican lawmaker, Rep. George Keiser, of Bismarck, also announced Wednesday that he won’t seek reelection next year. Keiser was first elected to the Legislature in 1992.