North Dakota’s Democrats Not Supporting Their Native American Candidates With Campaign Cash


TOM STROMME/Tribune Chase Iron Eyes speaks at his booth at the 2016 North Dakota Democratic-NPL state convention where he is seeking the party's nomination for Congress. The convention continues Saturday in Bismarck.

Back in April the North Dakota Democratic Party was making a big deal about the Native American candidates they’d nominated for races on the statewide ballot. Among them Chase Iron Eyes for the U.S. House, Ruth Buffalo for Insurance Commissioner, and Marlo Hunte-Beaubrun for the Public Service Commission.

“[W]e stand in solidarity with our tribes and want them to have better relationships between tribal and state governments, and this is an important way to do that,” party chairwoman Kylie Oversen said at the time.

But actions don’t seem to have backed up those words. Based on the latest fundraising reports, North Dakota’s Demcorats don’t seem that interested in supporting their Native American candidates. At least not like they’ve supported candidates for those same offices in the past.

Case in point, according to the October Quarterly fundraising report Iron Eyes filed with the FEC, he’s raised just over $134,000 so far this cycle and, just a few weeks ahead of election day, has just over $31,000 in cash on hand and just over $32,000 in campaign debt. That’s just a fraction of what 2014 Democratic House candidate George Sinner raised by this point in 2014, and a smaller fraction of what Democratic candidate Pam Gulleson raised in 2012:

image (2)

Just to put these numbers into perspective, Sinner has received nearly $40,000 in contributions just for his re-election campaign for the state Senate in Fargo’s District 46.

That’s not optimal. Particularly considering that Iron Eyes’ opponent – incumbent Republican Kevin Cramer – is reporting over $1.4 million in contributions so far this election cycle and over $583,000 in cash on hand.

Cramer, I don’t need to tell you, beat Gulleson and Sinner in those previous cycles.

And it’s not just Iron Eyes who seems to be getting stiffed by Democrats in the state. According to fundraising reports filed with the Secretary of State’s office last week, Hunte-Beaubrun has received just one contribution, $5,000 from the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation of the Fort Berthold Reservation (click for a larger view):


That’s just…amazing. Not a single Democrat anywhere in the state had even a few bucks to give to Hunte-Beaubrun outside of the MHA Nation?

Ruth Buffalo doesn’t appear to have filed a disclosure report with the Secretary of State’s Office yet. Or, at least, it isn’t showing up in the online database. The deadline was October 7. As of May she had reported no contributions.

This isn’t just problematic in that it shows that Democrats don’t mean what they say about supporting Native American candidates, but it also hurts down-ticket Democratic candidates.

Democrats have said they’re focused on winning seats in the Legislature this fall, and they might. There are some tough races for Republicans in the Red River Valley and elsewhere around the state, but the Democratic candidates in those races are going to have a tougher time without competitive candidates on the statewide ticket to draw in voters.

The Democrats hanging these three Native American candidates out to dry doesn’t help a Democrat legislative candidate trying to knock off a Republican in a tight race.