North Dakota State Treasurer Kelly Schmidt, a Republican, told me in a phone interview this afternoon that she’s considering a run for Governor.
“I am giving it serious consideration,” she told me, adding that she didn’t necessarily have a timeline for a decision.
She said she first thought about a 2016 campaign after current Governor Jack Dalrymple announced that he’d be stepping down when his current term is done. “I think everyone in the building kind of took a pause,” she said, referring to the state capitol building.
Currently every state executive branch elected office is held by a Republican.
Schmidt has a strong track record of winning statewide campaigns. She first won election to the Treasurer’s office in 2004 beating Democrat Dean Meyer with over 56 percent of the vote. In 2008 Schmidt beat Democrat Mitch Vance with over 61 percent of the vote, and in 2012 she beat Democrat Ross Mushik with over 65 percent of the vote.
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]”I am giving it serious consideration,” she told me, adding that she didn’t necessarily have a timeline for a decision.[/mks_pullquote]
Of course, that also means Schmidt would be up for re-election to her current office in 2016. I asked if her what would happen to the Treasurer’s office if she launched a campaign for Governor.
“It would be open,” she said, adding that if she doesn’t run for Governor she would seek a fourth term as Treasurer.
I asked, if she were to be unsuccessful in securing the nomination for Governor, if she’d consider running as Lt. Governor. Initially she said “not at this time,” but then she immediately amended that statement to make it a flat “no.”
“I’m already serving the people of North Dakota in my current position,” she said.
Schmidt could be an intriguing candidate. Like Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, who is also considering a gubernatorial campaign, she has a history of success on the statewide ballot. Both potential candidates have that advantage over Lt. Governor Drew Wrigley has only been elected on the statewide ballot once and then only as Dalrymple’s running mate (Wrigley has said he’s still considering a campaign for governor after news of his extramarital affair broke earlier this week).
And, while I’m not at all a fan of identity politics, there is no doubt that many Republican convention delegates and primary voters will no doubt see the potential of a female gubernatorial candidate as a plus in a political environment where Democrats push the idea of a Republican “war on women.”
Anyway, Schmidt now makes three Republicans who are on the record saying they’re considering a run for governor (four if you count Fargo businessman Doug Burgum who has a long history of contributing to Republicans but hasn’t ruled out a run as an independent).