Earlier this month I broke the news that Bismarck businessman, and former NDGOP Chairman, Gary Emineth was considering a run for the U.S. Senate.
This morning I can report, based on information from a source close to Emineth who spoke on condition of anonymity, that said run will happen.
“Gary intends to begin going to the Republican district conventions, starting Wednesday,” my source tells me. “As you know, four of the five Bismarck legislative districts are holding their conventions Wednesday. Gary intends to go to all of the remaining district conventions, and he is planning to go to the state GOP convention in Grand Forks.”
“His target date for a formal announcement is sometime during the first week of February,” my source added.
State Senator Tom Campbell, a Republican from Grafton, announced his own campaign for the U.S. Senate last year. He’s been running a media campaign, and fundraising, for months already.
“I’m not sure Tom will be as aggressive as I will be,” Emineth told me during a radio interview earlier this month (he wasn’t confirming his Senate campaign at the time though he spoke of it as though it were a sure thing). He also suggested that, despite Campbell branding himself as a “conservative farmer” in his marketing materials, his voting record in the Legislature tells a different story.
“I’ll be a stronger, more conservative candidate,” Emineth said.
My source echoed those comments.
“Gary perceives Tom Campbell’s support as soft, and the information he is getting from the Washington Republicans is that there is not much, if any, enthusiasm for Campbell’s candidacy,” the source said. “He has spent the last several days in Washington interviewing members of a campaign: pollster, consultant, media company, FEC compliance person, etc.”
My source also threw some shade at Campbell branding himself a “conservative farmer.”
“I personally think that Campbell’s ‘conservative farmer’ message is about 30 years too late. For one thing, Campbell isn’t particularly conservative, as his voting record in the ND Legislature demonstrates,” my source said. “Advertising oneself as a farmer is passe these days, even in North Dakota. When Ryan Taylor went running around, running for governor with his cheap cowboy hat, a lot of the folks I spoke to – especially in Fargo and Grand Forks – thought it presented a hayseed image that they wanted ND to move away from.”
I’ve been saying for years now that Senator Heidi Heitkamp will be tough for Republicans to beat in 2018. Whatever else may be true about her, she is one of the most talented and personally vicious politicians our state has ever seen. Could Emineth or Campbell beat her?
That’s a coin flip, at best, I think. But before we get to that race, Republicans will have to choose between Campbell and Emineth.
That’s shaping up to be an interesting contest already.