MINOT, N.D. — “They don’t want us anymore,” former Gov. Ed Schafer told me.
Schafer, whose hugely successful tenure as governor back in the 1990s ushered in the North Dakota Republican Party’s three-decade reign of dominance in state politics, had recently tried to get himself elected as a member of a precinct committee in District 46. He was defeated at the reorganization meeting by the same faction that also elected, as district chairman, an anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist who has railed on social media against tolerance for the LGBTQ community.
This matters, because that faction may soon control the leadership of the entire NDGOP. But more on Schafer and the traditional Republicans in a moment.
It’s probably not marked on your calendar, but next month there is a hugely consequential political event that will have an outsized influence on the future of state politics.
The North Dakota Republican Party, our state’s dominant political organization, the members of which control every statewide elected office and 88% of the seats in the Legislature, will be electing new leadership. There’s a good chance that the state party, currently controlled by traditional or “normie” Republicans, could be taken over by a very Donald Trump-aligned faction of populist culture warriors.