“You will most likely never be able to walk again. You can pray, but don’t hope.”
On Aug. 6, 1996, that’s what a neurologist in a Fargo hospital told Dwight Grotberg, a farmer from Barnes County, North Dakota, as he came out of surgery. The day before, while headed to a field on a tractor on the first day of harvest, Grotberg had been rear-ended by a semi trailer. An ambulance rushed him to the local clinic and soon the severely injured farmer was airlifted to Fargo for emergency treatment.
“When I heard the doctor’s prediction, I was just happy I was under sedation,” recalled Grotberg. But two weeks later, he began to have some sensation in his feet and could wiggle is toes. That was a start. What followed was a vigorous regimen of exercises such as walking with parallel bars and regular prayers with his wife and children.
A year after the near-fatal accident and the gloomy prognosis, Dwight Grotberg was his old self—albeit with a six-inch rod in his back and some very powerful arms and strong upper-body. He was walking, driving and doing the same chores on his farm that his family had performed for four generations.
Now 39 and following a stint as chairman of the Anderson Township Board (the local governing body), Grotberg is the Republican nominee against Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad (D.-N.D.).
Explaining his decision to take on Conrad (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 20%), the GOP hopeful noted that “when I was studying agricultural economics at North Dakota State University 16 years ago, Sen. Conrad came and spoke to us. He’s still in the Senate and things have gotten worse. I just felt it was time for a change and time to replace a career politician with someone who has private-sector experience.”
Grotberg passionately believes that lifelong office-holders such as Conrad perpetuate many of the current problems because they won’t make dramatic changes that are critical. In his words, “I almost ended up in a wheelchair, but anyone who lives long enough may wind end up in one. That’s why a more free-market approach to health care must be explored and implemented. The same is true with energy and Social Security, before it’s too late.”
The GOP challenger is not shy about noting when he disagrees with many in his own party’s leaders. He would have opposed the “No Child Left Behind” program that enhanced the federal role in education and he’s against a guest-worker program for illegal immigrants—both major initiatives of the Bush Administration.
“And I’m actively pro-life,” adds Grotberg, the father of seven.
To be sure, Grotberg has his work cut out for him trying to take out someone who has been in office for 27 years and can call on mega-dollars from political action committees. But Grotberg has faced daunting odds before and has overcome them. For all the odds against, him, conservatives should give attention and consideration to proven “overcomer” Dwight Grotberg.
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