ND Democrats struggle with candidate recruitment


By Rob Port | Watchdog.org North Dakota Bureau

CAN’T DECIDE: State Senator George Sinner, D-Fargo, has set multiple deadlines for announcing a US House campaign.

BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota Democrats told supporters in an October email they were looking forward to a strong slate of candidates to take on Rep. Kevin Cramer, the Republican incumbent, in 2014.

But after missing deadlines to announce a candidate in January and February, Cramer is currently facing only a challenge from Libertarian Party candidate Jack Seaman.

Seaman announced his first campaign ad this week that “will air in various markets around the state,” according to a press release sent out by his campaign. “This commercial is designed for voters to discover me as a candidate and learn a bit about what the Libertarian Party stands for,” Seaman is quoted as saying in the release. “I think it’s a great start and there will be more to follow. Stay tuned.”

Meanwhile, Democrats seem to be struggling to get a candidate in the race.

“We already know that almost everyone is disgusted with Congress today,” party chairman Bob Valeu said in an email sent out to party members just before Halloween. “And most North Dakotans know that we deserve better than having Kevin Cramer sit in the U.S. House as our state’s only representative. I’m delighted to report that at least five outstanding leaders have approached our party and are seriously considering challenging Cramer.”

Mentioned as among the five potential candidates were state Sen. George B. Sinner, former state Sen. Tom Fiebiger and U.S. Department of Agriculture rural development state director Jasper Schneider.

Democrats also claimed in June to have polling showing Cramer as vulnerable, though no specifics about the poll were provided.

Now, in the middle of February, Democrats still have no candidate. Senate Minority Leader Mac Schneider, D-Grand Forks, has said he’s not running for federal office. So has former Senate Minority Leader Ryan Taylor, who lost a challenge to Gov. Jack Dalrymple in 2012. Taylor accepted a Bush Foundation fellowship last year.

Sinner, whose father, George A. Sinner, served as North Dakota governor from 1985 to 1992, has set multiple deadlines to announce a campaign, but has missed them all. On Dec. 29th, 2013, the Bismarck Tribune quoted Sinner as saying an announcement was coming “next week.” Sinner then told the Forum News Service that he’d make an announcement by Feb. 1, but in a Feb. 3 report from the news service Sinner is quoted as saying he’s “still in the process” of deciding.

Presently, neither Sinner nor any other Democrat has announced a House campaign, and a search of the Federal Elections Commission database shows no filings on behalf of Democratic candidates for 2014.

Cramer has put up strong fundraising numbers. According to his year-end report filed with the FEC, Cramer raised more than $480,000 in 2013 and ended the year with $292,764.13 in cash on hand.

Email Rob Port at rport@watchdog.org

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