MINOT — Former Senator Oley Larsen, R-Dis. 3, was in the North Dakota Senate from 2011 to 2021, before he stepped down.
Liz Larsen, his wife, described what she thought when her husband decided to run.
“I think the word would be ‘disbelief’ that he wanted to do it, and then when he wanted to do it, I’m competitive, so it’s like, well, if he’s gonna do it, I want him to win,” recalled Larsen. “I felt completely amazed, in how he can switch halves. Just the whole process of it, I think I just never took the time to understand the cost, you know, financially, emotionally, timewise, that it takes to just do the process of it.”
Larsen explained what she appreciates about her husband through it all, saying, “The pieces that he has been able to do is to just stick true to what he believes, that that’s something that’s not easy to do, to have your core beliefs that you can stay true to in the middle of all the storms is probably the piece that I have the most admiration for.”
However, added Larsen, there are additional, often emotional, aspects to the job,
“Just public opinions about politicians. I find that jokes about politicians just aren’t funny anymore to me, just because they play such an important part that people somehow feel like it’s just an open hunt, like it’s okay to say those things, like they don’t have feelings,” said Larsen. “That’s the piece that has been the hardest for me, the judgment. You’re working for the public, so they do pay your wage when you’re down there, but the lack of privacy, I guess, is the hardest for me. The judgment taken out of context, and the spin. When you can say something to somebody and then by the time it comes out to three other people, the spin that happens on just information and how it’s decimated is disturbing.”
Larsen said that praying and giving her husband boundaries were some of the ways she was able to be there for him.
“When he was down there [in Bismarck], you know, we still had kids in school, and I worked the whole time so I’ve never been down there except for events or meetings,” said Larsen. “We both are very protective of what we’ll read or even follow just because it brings up emotions, so I’d say boundaries is probably the biggest gift I’ve tried to give him. Just some balance in boundaries.”