In late summer of 1921, there was a great deal of contention surrounding North Dakota’s political situation. It was rumored that Governor Lynn Frazier was about to resign before a recall election could take place. On this date in ‘21, Frazier declared that the rumors were “an invention pure and simple.” He called such talk “a barefaced falsehood framed by that portion of the press which is corrupt….”
Attorney General William Lemke added that no member of the administration intended to resign prior to the recall election. He said the rumors were fabricated by politicians who wanted to deceive the public. He agreed with Frazier that the press was corrupt and “for sale to the highest bidder.” The Fargo Courier News applauded Frazier’s statement that he was not going to resign, saying it should put to an end the rumors spread by the “IVA propagandists” – referring to the Independent Voter’s Association, which was bitterly opposed to Frazier’s party, the Non-Partisan League.
Frazier was the N-P-L governor of North Dakota, and served in that office during a very turbulent time. Farm prices were down, bad weather resulted in poor crops, and North Dakota was in a state of depression following World War I. Frazier successfully introduced a number of radical changes including Women’s Suffrage, and the establishment of the state-owned Bank of North Dakota and the State Mill and Elevator.
It was rumored that the IVA was going to call off the recall election. NPL officials said that would demonstrate that the “anti-farmer” IVA saw the futility of its efforts and knew they would be defeated.
The Courier News said that in contrast to the IVA bosses who initiated the recall election, the NPL was content to submit to the will of the people. Frazier and his officials were fully confident that the people of the state had faith in the farmer-labor leaders of the NPL.
Unfortunately for Frazier, his confidence was misplaced. He was the first governor in the country to lose his office in a recall election. Only two other recalls votes have occurred. In 2003 Gray Davis of California was replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger, and in 2012, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin survived a recall challenge.
Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher
Fargo Courier News. “Lemke Declares Rumor an I.V.A. Invention.” 24 August, 1921.
State Historical Society of North Dakota. “North Dakota Governors.” "http://www.history.nd.gov/exhibits/governors/governors12.html" http://www.history.nd.gov/exhibits/governors/governors12.html Accessed 5 July, 2016.
Rutgers University. “Recalling Governors: An Overview.” "http://governors.rutgers.edu/on-governors/us-governors/recalling-governors-an-overview/" http://governors.rutgers.edu/on-governors/us-governors/recalling-governors-an-overview/ Accessed 5 July, 2016.