Congressman Kevin Cramer is running for the United States Senate.
That’s not official official yet, but c’mon. Dude has a Facebook event for a Senate campaign announcement. It’s a done deal.
He’s in the race, and the nomination is basically his. State Senator Tom Campbell, who launched his Senate campaign back in August, has been on the record for months now saying he’ll switch to a House race if Cramer joins the Senate race. The other Republican Senate candidates – Paul Schaffner and Thomas O’Neill – aren’t serious competitors.
But Cramer running for the Senate leaves the race for the NDGOP’s House endorsement wide open. Who will be in that race?
As I’ve already mentioned, Campbell is expected to switch his Senate campaign into a House campaign. I believe all that requires is some paperwork with the FEC.
Also in the race, having already filed a statement of candidacy with the FEC, is mystery candidate Tiffany Abentroth. As I wrote previously, she has a background in the military and defense industry as well as North Dakota roots in the Hillsboro area but has more recently been living in the Maryland/Virginia area. She is also almost completely unknown in Republican circles in North Dakota. Her candidacy has had Republicans I’ve been talking to scratching their heads for a while now. I’ve been trying to book an interview with her for weeks, but outside of providing a two-page biography of the candidate, her campaign manager has ignored my requests.
I have no idea how seriously to take Abentroth.
Those are the certain candidates. We can speculate some about who else might jump into the race. Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak had been flirting with a possible Senate campaign. Might she be more enticed by a wide-open race for the House instead? Would former Congressman Rick Berg, who forfeited his House seat when he ran for the Senate and lost against Heitkamp in 2012, give it a shot?
How about Gary Emineth? Earlier this week he abruptly ended his Senate campaign because of his belief that Cramer would be getting into that race. Would he run for the House? I think he’d have handled his Senate campaign a bit differently if he was interested in that, but who knows. UPDATE: Spoke with Emineth this afternoon and asked him if he’s interested in a House race. “Yes,” was his answer.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see four or five Republican candidates vying for the NDGOP House endorsement by the time the party’s state convention is held in April.
And the Democrats? They have one candidate currently, former state Rep. Ben Hanson, but Democratic insiders tell me they’re not exactly impressed with him. I have to think those feelings are even stronger now that the Republican incumbent is out of the House race.
Aaron Krauter, an Obama administration appointee as well as a former state lawmaker and Heitkamp’s running mate in her failed 2000 gubernatorial campaign, has been courted for a House race though I have no inkling as to how likely his candidacy is.