To be honest with you, this election cycle has been a fairly dull one in North Dakota so far, especially coming as it does after last year’s pitched battle in the Senate race between now-Senator Heidi Heitkamp and former Congressman Rick Berg.
There’s no Senate race in the state this year, and the House race has been a bit of a dud so far with George Sinner so far running an indifferent campaign against incumbent Kevin Cramer. Dave Kolpack of the Associated Press, trying his best to portray the contest as a horse race, seems more to be reminding us that there is, in fact, a race to begin with.
I mean we’re, what, a little more than two months out from election day? A bit more than a month away from the beginning of early voting? And the narrative in the race is that George Sinner might be able to make it competitive when he gets around to campaigning?
Here’s my favorite couple of sentences, in which Kolpack characterizes Sinner’s tiny pile of campaign cash as “enough to compete,” and Sinner himself engages in a bit of the old “let’s not put a label on my politics.”
At the end of June, Sinner had $273,846 on hand, well short of Cramer’s $653,399 but enough to compete.
He also takes encouragement from his own election to the state Senate, which he says shows Democrats still have a chance.
“People in North Dakota are pragmatic, and what we’ve seen for decades, is that people care more about being represented than about labels,” Sinner said.
It’s amazing how hard North Dakota Democrats work to avoid being identified as Democrats/liberals. If liberalism of the sort the Democrat party represents were popular in North Dakota, you can bet people like George Sinner and Heidi Heitkamp wouldn’t be stepping so carefully around them.
Another interesting item from Kolpack’s efforts to manufacture a horse race where none exists is his use of a quote from UND political science professor Mark Jendrysik:
The race is considered one to watch in North Dakota political circles, although Sinner is still considered an underdog.
“You have this current built-in Republican advantage in the state,” said Mark Jendrysik, political science professor at the University of North Dakota. “At the same time you do have the fact that people are willing to vote for Democrats if they like them or if they know them personally. But without solid polling, it’s very hard to make any predictions.”
Jendrysik gets quoted in political stories a lot for some reason, despite never really having anything all that insightful to say, but what’s interesting about this cycle is that Jendrsik’s wife is on the ballot. As a Democrat.
Should we really be looking to the spouse of a statewide Democrat candidate for objective analysis of the competition between Republican and Democrat candidates?
Probably not. I mean, if we’re going to do that sort of thing, maybe we could ask Governor Jack Dalrymple’s wife Betsy what she thinks too.