North Dakota Republicans Stuck Campaigning Against A Vacuum


Yesterday I wrote about the North Dakota Republican Party’s fundraising difficulties. An elected Republican called me about the post and made an interesting point.

“How do you fundraise when you’re running against a vacuum?”

That’s a good point, and a commenter on my post yesterday made the same point:

lets say you are a fundraiser for the NDGOP.. How does that conversation go..

“Hello, I’m from the NDGOP, we are really struggling right now, see we hold all the state wide seats except for the US Senate, which isn’t up for 5 more years,

we need your money to help defend the US House, which we don’t have an opponent, and all 4 yes all four statewide seats AG, PSC, SoS & Tax which are up for re-election this fall, non of them have an opponent yet either, and most are doing quite well fundraising on their own.

Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger actually does have an opponent – Fargo attorney Jason Astrup announced his intention to seek the Democrat endorsement in that race a couple of weeks ago – but the larger point is well made. It certainly jibes with what I heard at the NDGOP conventions for Minot-area districts. Just about every Republican elected on the statewide ballot who is on the ballot this year – with the exception of Secretary of State Al Jaeger who was at a NDGOP event in Jamestown – and for the most part they delivered a common refrain:

“Don’t get complacent.”

What else could these people say? They have no opponents. Here at the end of February, not even Rep. Kevin Cramer has an opponent yet. Stuck campaigning against a vacuum, it becomes difficult to maintain the interest of the base. Complacency becomes an issue.

Some have speculated to me that this is a tactic by Democrats. That they’re hoping to lull Republcians to sleep, and then spring a strong slate of candidates on them coming out of their statewide convention in Fargo at the end of March. That’s plausible, I suppose, but may be projecting competence and creativity onto what is really a problem of marginalization and desperation.

Even at the local level, Democrats seem to be struggling. Here in Minot Democrats held their area district conventions at the Roosevelt Park Zoo a week ago, but so far haven’t announced any candidates against Republican incumbents. A Jamestown-area Republican tells me the same thing happened in their districts with Republican incumbents.

While that looks bad for Democrats, and probably means not much is going to change electorally in the state this year, you have to wonder what this lack of opposition will do to Republicans. Atrophy may set in, and may undermine Republicans in the future.