House Candidate Kelly Armstrong Clearly Has Some Work to Do in Reuniting Republicans

I wrote earlier this morning about the overall numbers from last night’s primary vote. There were no really competitive races on the statewide ballot, nor were there any statewide ballot measures, but one race did jump out at me with some interesting results.

The race for the Republican U.S. House nomination featured four candidates: NDGOP-endorsed Kelly Armstrong, convention losers Tiffany Abentroth and Paul Schaffner, and then state Senator Tom Campbell who decided to withdraw from the race after also losing at the convention though not before he filed to be on the primary ballot.

In that four-way race Armstrong got a strong majority, or 56 percent, of the vote. Still, there were a surprising number of votes cast for Campbell:

Remember that Campbell withdrew from this race and endorsed Armstrong yet still managed to get nearly a quarter of the vote.

It was a very bitter competition between Campbell and Armstrong at the convention. Campbell had to be convinced to eschew a campaign to the primary. That he still got so many votes speaks to a lot of Campbell supporters still holding onto some angst about Armstrong’s victory.

Are they angry enough to cross over and vote the Democratic candidate Mac Schneider? That seems unlikely, at least in anything approaching large numbers.

Still, it’s perhaps something Armstrong should consider. Though, to be clear, Armstrong’s win last night was pretty convincing. He won every single county but one statewide. Tiffany Abentroth, whose family has a long history in Traill County, edged out Armstrong there (click for a larger view):

Campbell, despite his strong statewide showing, didn’t win a single county. And he barely won the vote in his own legislative district where he’s been a state Senator since winning election there in 2012:

What I’m really surprised about is the statewide showing Paul Schaffner put on. He got 5,203 votes despite a conviction last year for soliciting a prostitute.

Go figure. But then Secretary of State candidate Will Gardner, whose conviction for being a peeping tom in 2006 prompted him to drop out of the race, still garnered 54,106 votes. Albeit in an uncontested primary he couldn’t, by law, be removed from.

Gardner is expected to announce his withdrawal from the race to avoid having his name on the statewide ballot.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, 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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