Fargo, N.D. — North Dakota breathed a collective sigh of relief earlier this month as House Majority Leader Rep. Al Carlson announced he’d seek re-election. The Republican legislator from Fargo has served in North Dakota’s legislature since 1890, one year following the state’s admission to the Union by President Benjamin Harrison.

The oldest living member of any governing body in the United States, Carlson was recently declared a living historical landmark by the State Historical Society of North Dakota. When not representing the great people of Fargo in the North Dakota House of Representatives, Carlson can be found in his exhibit at the famed North Dakota Heritage Center located in Bismarck. There he provides historical context for the center’s thousands of guests who visit his exhibit and undergoes routine maintenance by the Center’s preservationists. During North Dakota’s summer months, Carlson is relocated to Highway 1806, just a few miles north of Bismarck.

Rep. Al Carlson stands in his living exhibit at the North Dakota Heritage Center in Bismarck.

Betty Knudson of Karlsruhe, N.D., says she often brings her children to see Carlson in his exhibit each year.”

“Where else can my kids learn firsthand about the Civil War or describe in detail Abraham Lincoln,” asked Knudson. “During his Martin Luther King Day speech on the floor of the North Dakota House of Representatives, I first learned of Carlson’s love of the Confederate Army. But after visiting his exhibit at the Heritage Center, Carlson explained to us in stunning detail that he actually fought for the Confederates during the Civil War. What a gift we have right here in North Dakota – a living Civil War veteran who is a hero, no doubt. Who knew in our own backyard we had such a living monument to history?”

Providing historical context is what Carlson says he does best, given the changes he’s experienced throughout his life in North Dakota.

“Life is certainly easier today than it was a century ago in North Dakota, but not everything has changed,” Carlson laughed. “When I first served in our legislature in the late 1800’s, we’d often have to be escorted by the Calvary to the capitol because an ambush by natives was always a threat. And here we are today in the same boat. We’re still thwarting off attacks from those same Indians, angry over a bunch of nonsense that we’re polluting their water and stealing their land. That’s something I hope to accomplish in our next legislative session – perhaps passing stricter laws and making it easier for law-abiding citizens to defend themselves through ‘shoot on sight’ legislation proposed by the great folks over at the North Dakota Association for Fossil Fuels.”

Carlson says change isn’t an easy thing for North Dakota, but it’s something he’s certainly open to.

“We elected a Governor that has an email account so we’re making progress. I don’t always agree with his taste in clothing because blue jeans or denim – whatever the kids are calling them these days, shouldn’t be worn by any elected official. We’ve still got some work to do on that.”

North Dakota Democrats reacted to Carlson’s announcement by outlining their goals in the next election cycle.

“We’ve got some great prospects in 2018 and we’re pretty confident we’ll run some competitive races statewide,” said a Dem-NPL spokeswoman. “Both the Fargo and Bismarck Food Co-Ops have some open seats on their boards and we’re pretty optimistic that we have a shot at those. A few local theaters also have some open board seats we’re hoping to pick up and the ultimate prize of course is to finally win a seat in the Senate or House again.”

The Democratic Party has not held a seat in the North Dakota Legislature since 1963.

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