There’s something kind of weird about North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer’s re-election campaign.
I get bombarded by a lot of press releases, as you might imagine, and I honestly don’t spend a lot of time looking at the details beyond the meat and potatoes of the release itself. But something caught my eye about a release from the Cramer campaign earlier this month. The contact for the release wasn’t some campaign flak, as is usually the case, but rather the candidate himself. Cramer’s email address and phone number are listed right in the press release (see the screenshot below).
That’s not some gimmick. If you use the email address or phone number, guess who you reach? The candidate himself. I know because I tried. I’ve obscured the phone number in the image below because I’m not sure the Congressman wants the general public sending him text messages or calling his cell phone, but you get my drift.
It is unusual, to say the least, in this era of carefully stage-managed campaigns for a candidate for Congress to give the press his direct email address/phone number.
I was reminded of this unusual circumstance recently while reading this column written by Democrat operative Jason Stanford who was critical of Cramer for paying himself, his wife, and his daughter out of campaign funds. “Odds are, if you’re in Cramer’s family, you’re also on his campaign payroll,” wrote Stanford derisively.
It is true that Cramer does have his wife, Kris Kramer, on the campaign payroll. Through the end of the last reporting period, September 30th, she’s been paid $34,499 in salary plus expense reimbursements so far during the two-year election cycle.
It is also true that Cramer’s campaign has paid $2,040 in salary to his daughter Rachel Wegner so far during the cycle. And he’s paid $3,100 to Reel Love Video for campaign services. That’s a business owned by another of Cramer’s daughters. Heck, Kevin has even reimbursed himself over $32,000 for travel expenditures.
But here’s the thing: The Cramer campaign has no other staff. No campaign manager. No communications director. No personal assistants for the candidate.
By contrast, the Sinner campaign has had at least 8 different staffers on the payroll at one time or another (interestingly some people identified in the press as working for the Sinner campaign aren’t showing up in the campaign disclosures for the campaign or the state party).
I guess some could be critical – and certainly Mr. Stanford is critical – of the fact that Cramer has himself and a couple of family members on the campaign payroll. But I find it kind of endearing that the Cramer campaign is a family affair. That might not be the case if Cramer was paying a bunch of other staffers in addition to himself and his family, but there are no other staffers. Just Cramer, his wife, and occasionally his daughter.
The Cramer campaign is a lean one. It does not have what anyone would describe as a bloated payroll.
Cramer has a reputation for being extremely accessible. He doesn’t very often turn down interview requests, and I’ll bet more than one reporter this cycle has been surprised to have a question sent to the campaign answered by the candidate himself.
That’s a very unique thing. Probably not something you would ever find anywhere but North Dakota.