Sen. Byron Dorgan is shaping up to be a real thorn in Barack Obama’s side. The North Dakota Democrat is on a collision course with the president on everything from climate change to Afghanistan to Wall Street, and he holds some key committee positions. “I’m not in Washington, DC to serve President Obama,” he tells Politico. “North Dakotans know—they know that I’m fiercely independent.”
Fierce independence could be an essential survival tool for Dorgan. North Dakota is deep red, and Republicans are eager to link Dorgan to Obama ahead of next year’s election. Dorgan’s best chance of distancing himself might be on financial issues; he’s criticized the Geithner and Summers appointments, and formed an ever-growing group of senators dedicated to pushing Obama to be tougher on Wall Street.