Tom Campbell announces his candidacy for the U.S. House during a U.S. Senate campaign rally for N.D. Rep. Kevin Cramer on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018, at the Ramada in Bismarck. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

I’d be lying to you folks if I didn’t admit that state Senator Tom Campbell’s campaign for federal office, started in August last year, has always had a tincture of vanity to it. A perception that isn’t entirely unfair given what we know of Campbell’s campaign finances to date.

According to his latest filing with the FEC, covering his campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2017, the candidate has spent roughly 3/4’s of a million dollars on his own campaign. For that all he’s accomplished so far is to be chased from the Senate race into the House race by Congressman Kevin Cramer.

Now, in his newly-minted House campaign, Campbell has already begun to lose some luster. He’s been touting endorsements from Republican elected officials across the state…

…but the defections from those race have begun already with the entrance into the race of fellow state Senator (and until recently NDGOP Chairman) Kelly Armstrong.

Case in point, just weeks ago Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner penned an op-ed supporting Campbell for the Senate which was published here on SAB among other places. “Now is the time for Republicans to unite behind Tom Campbell,” Wardner wrote.

But here’s video of Senator Wardner from this week at an event where Armstrong announced his campaign for the House. A campaign which pits Armstrong against Campbell for the NDGOP’s nomination.

Does it sound like Wardner is still a Campbell supporter? Because it doesn’t to me:

A lot of people (including this humble observer) like Tom Campbell. He’s a very nice, very generous man.

Campbell also has a lot of money to spend on his campaign, including on the hiring high-profile campaign consultants from out of state like Chip Englander.

But what Campbell doesn’t have is a belief, among anything approaching a majority of the state’s Republicans, that he can be a tough campaigner and an effective congressman.

One prominent Republican, a veteran of statewide office, told me last year that Campbell is not so much a policymaker but an office seeker. Someone who is in politics because politics is a good club to belong to. With Congress being one of the most exclusive clubs of all.

That has always rung true to me.