After All the Announcements and Maneuvering, Here’s What North Dakota’s Federal Races Look Like This Morning

Tom Campbell announces his candidacy for the U.S. House during a U.S. Senate campaign rally for N.D. Rep. Kevin Cramer on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018, at the Ramada in Bismarck. (Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service)

Congressman Kevin Cramer announced last week that he’s running for the U.S. Senate. That has set off a ripple of maneuvering across Republican political circles, and I thought I’d round up what everything looks like as of this morning.

First, as I wrote over the weekend, we can expect current NDGOP Chairman, and Dickinson-area state Senator, Kelly Armstrong to step down from that position and launch a U.S. House campaign this week. It’s not clear at this point who will succeed Armstrong as party chair. Vice Chairman Jim Poolman has told me he’s not interested in the position. Carma Hanson, the other vice chair, said she’d like to let the process play out. The biggest factor in that process will likely be Governor Doug Burgum.

On Friday, at Cramer’s event announcing his Senate campaign, state Senator Tom Campbell switched the campaign he’s been running for the U.S. Senate since August into a House campaign.

Also joining the House race is Paul Schaffner who had previously announced a campaign for the Senate (despite some pretty significant legal troubles). Schaffner writes about the move in a guest post here on SAB this morning.

Not starting a House race is former NDGOP Chairman Gary Emineth. He had run a short-lived Senate campaign, stopping it when it became clear that Cramer was also running for the Senate, but was saying he remained interested in running for the House. No more, sources familiar with Emineth’s decision making tell me. He’s out.

I’m also told that former Congressman Rick Berg, who so far has said he’s not ruling out House campaign, will likely stay on the sidelines.

Finally making an appearance on the campaign trail is mystery House candidate Tiffany Abentroth. She showed up at the NDGOP’s District 20 (west and south of Grand Forks) convention over the weekend. Abentroth is from that part of the state – her family farms in the Hillsboro area – and spoke to Republican activists on hand for the local organizing event. “Something you might find interesting, Tiffany Abentroth finally showed up to the D20 convention last night,” a SAB reader who was there told me. “Brought her campaign manager, didn’t seem like a viable candidate despite her good bio. She simply doesn’t seem to understand the process. Plus, she verbally said she was pro-choice.” I still haven’t been successful in getting Abentroth booked for an interview.

To sum up, here’s what the federal races in North Dakota look like right now (including rumored/possible candidates):

U.S. Senate: Republicans

U.S. Senate: Democrats

U.S. House: Republicans

  • State Senator Tom Campbell
  • State Senator Kelly Armstrong (likely)
  • Tiffany Abentroth
  • Paul Schaffner
  • DuWayne Hendrickson

U.S. House: Democrats

  • Ben Hanson
  • Aaron Krauter (rumored)

Rob Port is the editor of, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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