Arthur A. Link

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Not to be confused with American historian Arthur S. Link
Arthur Albert Link
Arthur A. Link.jpg
27th Governor of North Dakota
In office
January 2, 1973 – January 6, 1981
Lieutenant Wayne Sanstead
Preceded by William L. Guy
Succeeded by Allen I. Olson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Dakota's 2nd district
In office
January 3, 1971 – January 2, 1973
Preceded by Thomas S. Kleppe
Succeeded by District eliminated
Personal details
Born (1914-05-24)May 24, 1914
Alexander, North Dakota
Died June 1, 2010(2010-06-01) (aged 96)
Bismarck, North Dakota
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Grace Link
Profession Politician

Arthur Albert Link (May 24, 1914 – June 1, 2010) was an American politician for the North Dakota Democratic Party, and later the Democratic-NPL. He served as a U.S. Representative from 1971 to 1973 and as the 27th Governor of North Dakota from 1973 to 1981.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Link was born in Alexander, North Dakota. He attended the McKenzie County schools, and North Dakota Agricultural College. He was elected to the North Dakota House of Representatives in 1946 as a Democrat, serving fourteen years as minority floor leader and speaker of the house, 1965. He was also a member of the Randolph Township Board, 1942–1972; McKenzie County Welfare Board, 1948–1969; Randolph School Board, 1945–1963; county and State Farm Security Administration committee, 1941–1946; and delegate, North Dakota State conventions, 1964-1968.[2]

In 1970, Link was persuaded to run for U.S. Congress from the western district of North Dakota to succeed Republican incumbent Thomas S. Kleppe, who ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate. It was a job with little security as it appeared certain the state would be consolidated into a single congressional district after the census. He was narrowly elected as a Dem-NPLer to the Ninety-second Congress (January 3, 1971 – January 2, 1973) in a mild surprise; was not a candidate for reelection in 1972 but was a successful candidate for Governor of North Dakota; reelected in 1976 and served from January 2, 1973, until January 6, 1981.[2]

Link was well liked and well respected as a governor. Those of all political persuasions found common ground with him. Some considered him a social conservative who was staunchly pro-life, deeply religious and willing to stand for principle even when political wisdom dictated otherwise, vetoing a bill to lower the state minimum drinking age to 19 years and providing leadership against legalizing gambling in the state.[citation needed] Others viewed him as a moderate as he was also astute fiscally, managing to avoid raising taxes of one of the poorer states in the nation.[1] Still others saw him as a progressive, since he was still able to maintain and grow an excellent education system with affordable universities and students who consistently achieve some of the top test scores in the United States.[citation needed]

He was also a leader among governors from neighboring states. When the western United States suffered a severe drought in the mid-1970s, and other western governors called for Federal Aid, Link called for a day of fasting and prayer instead. Some believe that in answer to the many prayers, rain followed. With the rain, Federal Aid in North Dakota became a non-issue.[citation needed]

Even his political opponents could find little to criticize about his governing style. Some in his own party considered him too religious, too ethical, too colorless and too unwilling to compromise for the sake of political expediency. Nevertheless, he was nominated to run for a third term. He narrowly lost re-election in 1980 only due to a perfect storm of circumstances working against him, namely (1) a tradition of turnover in the governor's office (only Link's immediate predecessor in the office had served more than six years), (2) continuous occupation of the governor's mansion since 1961 by Dem-NPLers in a solidly Republican state, (3) a highly unpopular President Jimmy Carter running for re-election at the top of the ticket, (4) a highly popular opponent Ronald Reagan running on the Republican side, (5) a national feeling of pessimism brought about by the Iran hostage crisis and an unprecedented combination of double-digit unemployment, inflation and gas lines, even though North Dakota fared far better than most other places in the United States.[citation needed]

Later life[edit]

After his defeat for re-election, Link remained active in public life, leading a successful fight against a state lottery in 1984. He also remained a strong force for historical preservation and writing of local histories. He and his wife Grace lived in Bismarck, North Dakota.

He is fondly remembered by North Dakotans and former North Dakotans, Dem-NPLers and Republicans alike as one of the best governors the state ever enjoyed.[citation needed] Though the Democratic-NPL has been able to elect only one governor since Link vacated the office in 1981, they managed to occupy all the seats in the state's federal congressional delegation from 1987 until January 2011, with every member therein having served during the Link Administration.

A movie was made of the Links' lives in 2008, entitled: "When the Landscape is Quiet Again".

Link died on June 1, 2010, in Bismarck, just eight days after his 96th birthday.[2]


  1. ^ a b "Arthur A. Link". North Dakota Governors Online Exhibit. State Historical Society of North Dakota. Retrieved February 11, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c MacPherson, James (June 1, 2010). "Arthur Link, ex-ND governor and congressman, dies". WDAY. Archived from the original on February 17, 2013. Retrieved February 11, 2012. 

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Thomas S. Kleppe
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Dakota's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
none (district eliminated)
Political offices
Preceded by
William L. Guy
Governor of North Dakota
Succeeded by
Allen I. Olson