The nine years between 1906 and 1915 were marked by a series of revolutionary progressive successes, starting with John Burke’s election as governor in 1906. Alexander McKenzie’s conservative political machine controlled the Senate, but the House of Representatives was filled with progressive Democrats and Republicans, who managed to introduce many anti-railroad bills against the staunch opposition of lobbyists. Many pieces of progressive legislation and reforms were passed during this time, including a direct primary law, a joint resolution for a constitutional amendment for initiative and referendum power, a public library commission law, and laws to enforce prohibition. Subsequent years would see the end of Alexander McKenzie and his Republican political machine. By 1908, the first state electoral primaries solidified his retirement. That year the Republican Party, free from McKenzie’s conservative influence, crafted an extremely progressive party platform. Progressive Democratic Governor John Burke remained in position with Republican votes.
North Dakota again proved its progressive sympathies in 1912, when the state held the first United States Presidential Preference Primary on March 19. North Dakota Republicans favored progressive presidential candidate Robert M. La Follette over Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. Though an angry Roosevelt formed the Progressive Party after losing the nomination to Taft, he had little support from North Dakota, where many Progressives distrusted his backers, George Walbridge Perkins of the J.P. Morgan group and International Harvester. Because of this opposition, Woodrow Wilson carried the state in November. Republican Louis B. Hanna was elected governor in 1912 and 1914. Once in office, he and his legislative allies halted the creation of a state-operated grain elevator, which may have convinced progressives to unite in 1915.