The NDGOP has (in a disappointing development) Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke as their keynote speaker for the convention this weekend.
They also have enough registered delegates to fill their venue at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks to capacity. So much so the party has to close Zinke’s speech to the public so they don’t displace the paying delegates.
At their 2014 midterm convention the party had about 900 delegates. For this weekend they’re expecting over 1,500.
That’s more than double the 612 seated delegates Democrats topped out at last month. It’s a big, big number and the Democrats know it. Which is why they’re trying to muddy the waters around that big crowd by making a stink about public access to Zinke’s speech:
The move to close the Zinke keynote to the public drew criticism from the North Dakota Democratic Party, which hosted its convention last month at the Alerus Center.
“If Secretary Zinke and the Trump Administration’s endorsement of Congressman (Kevin) Cramer is so strong, what are they afraid of?” said Scott McNeil, executive director of the state Democratic Party. “Maybe the administration hasn’t gotten the memo—because they haven’t in the past—but North Dakotans value a free and open press and expect transparency of their public leaders.”
I have press credentials for the convention this weekend, and I can tell you that the media will be in the room for Zinke’s speech. The NDGOP is also providing a live stream of the speech for the public.
The headline for this story should be big, big crowd Republicans are packing into the Alerus center. But the Democrats scored by changing the narrative to something giving the impression that the event will be something less than transparent.