North Dakota Democrats are getting another candidate for the U.S. House, but it’s not happening without some internal strife.
Mac Schneider, former Minority Leader in the state Senate, is expected to announce a campaign on Tuesday next week. Former state Representative Ben Hanson has already been campaigning for that seat for months now. State Senator John Grabinger joined the House race last month.
Like Hanson, Schneider lost election to the Legislature in the 2016 cycle. After losing, Schneider moved out of Grand Forks to Fargo and was telling everyone he wouldn’t be running for office in 2018.
He told me that directly. He also my colleague, reporter Sam Easter, the same thing back in December.
But apparently he has changed his mind. “Mac Schneider is running for the US House after all,” a source with knowledge of the situation told me. “He wants to announce his candidacy on Tuesday.”
This isn’t sitting well with Hanson, I’m told.
“He personally visited Ben Hanson in Fargo in the last few days to tell him about this,” my source said.
“Hanson is feeling betrayed, and understandably so. Before Hanson decided to run himself, he asked Schneider if he was planning to run for the U.S. House, and Schneider said no, definitely not. Hanson himself told me this last summer,” my source continued. “If Schneider had run, Hanson would have supported his race. And you’re aware that Schneider told the press he wouldn’t be a candidate in 2018 because he was concentrating on moving his law practice to Fargo.”
“This is [Senator] Heidi Heitkamp wanting the strongest person running alongside her,” another source told me. “Either Mac or Krauter,” he added referring to former lawmaker Aaron Krauter who was Heitkamp’s gubernatorial running mate in 2000 and has been considering a House run.
I reached out to both Hanson and Schneider for comment this morning but neither of them immediately returned my call.
UPDATE: “Thanks for reaching out this morning. I don’t have anything official to announce today, but I can confirm I’m at my desk calling delegates presently,” Schneider told me in a text subsequent to the publication of this post.
How will Democrats feel about Schneider flip-flopping on his previous decision to stay out of the 2018 cycle? I suspect if there is any ill-will it won’t last long (outside, perhaps, of Hanson and his most ardent supporters). The political landscape has changed. The House race, once blocked by a popular Republican incumbent, is now open thanks to Kevin Cramer running for the U.S. Senate.
I suspect many Democrats will be elated to get one of their party’s bright young stars into the race, albeit one who is coming off an electoral loss.
Schneider is from a political family. His father Mark Schneider was chairman of the North Dakota Democratic Party for a time. His mother, Mary Schneider, is currently a state Representative from Fargo. His cousin Jasper Schneider served a term in the state House and lost a race for Insurance Commissioner in 2008 before being appointed to as Director of Rural Development for North Dakota by President Barack Obama.
Schneider works as an attorney for his family’s law firm.
— John Hageman (@jhageman_) March 3, 2018