North Dakota Republicans, Democrats Get Utterly Uninspiring Candidates for House and Senate Races Today

Republican state Senator Tom Campbell, seen here in a campaign ad announcing his bid for the U.S. Senate in 2018. Via YouTube

For those of us who enjoy horse race politics, today was an indication that the 2018 election cycle in North Dakota may be a dull one.

For the Democrats, former state lawmaker Ben Hanson of West Fargo announced his intention to run for the U.S. House. The most pertinent part of his resume may be the whole “former state lawmaker” thing. Because someone who just came off an election cycle wherein he couldn’t get enough votes to in in his home district to stay in the Legislature is not exactly an inspiring choice to take on popular Republican incumbent Rep. Kevin Cramer.

Hanson came in last place in the District 16 House race last year.

Democrats seem to be learning their lesson, though. Hanson is jumping into the race early, as opposed to the last two cycles when Democrats waited until spring of the election year to put a candidate in the race. That Hanson will be on the November ballot next year is a near certainty.

The North Dakota Democratic Party didn’t manage to elect enough of its party to the Legislature to cover all their committee assignments, which makes it unlikely that they’re going to muster enough candidates this election cycle to field competitive nomination/primary battles for statewide office.

I wouldn’t hold my breath expecting Hanson to be competitive. He’s a young Democrat taking one for the team this cycle.

On the Republican side, state Senator Tom Campbell finally made a campaign for statewide office official after years of working himself into a lather.

You can read his release for his Senate campaign below.

With Cramer still deciding on whether to run for another term in the U.S. House or to run for the U.S. Senate, the message from Campbell had been that he’d run for whatever race Cramer wasn’t in. He’s been saying that for months. But perhaps deciding that wasn’t wise politics, Campbell has finally come down on a Senate run.

Perhaps an indication that Cramer is staying put?

Regardless, Campbell is already out with a campaign ad titled “Combine and a Prayer.”

It’s hilarious that Campbell is branding himself as an “outsider.” That’s obviously an attempt to capitalize on Governor Doug Burgum’s successful branding from the 2016 cycle, but is anyone going to buy that from someone who is a twice-elected member of the state Legislature?

It’s hard to tell voters that you’re an outsider when you’ve been elected to the state Senate for going on six years.

Anyway, expect more candidates to jump into the Senate race for Republicans. State Rep. Rick Becker is widely expected to announce a run for the Senate this year. Oil industry consultant Kathy Neset, who currently sits in the State Board of Higher Education, is also considering a run. There will almost certainly be other names too.

While North Dakota Democrats have problems finding candidates, the Republican headache is a log jam of interesting prospects.

But there is little feeling in NDGOP circles that Campbell is the candidate the party needs to unseat Heitkamp.

In fact, if Campbell is the NDGOP nominee, Heitkamp can probably feel assured of another six years in Washington D.C. Barring some unforeseen turn of events, of course.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from 1-2pm weekdays.

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