Read It: Governor Burgum, Senator-Elect Cramer Tell NDGOP in Letter Not to Give up Open Primary


Congressman Kevin Cramer, U.S. Sen. John Hoeven and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum hosted EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt at a closed roundtable discussion in Fargo Wednesday, Aug. 9. Dave Olson/The Forum

Last week I wrote about proposed legislation, being considered for endorsement by the North Dakota Republican Party, which if passed would end North Dakota’s open primary system.

In our state the political parties hold endorsing conventions, but the actual nominees are chosen in a statewide vote in June of election years. Some, arguing that political parties are private organizations and ought not be obligated by the government to use a particular method for choosing nominees, want to end the practice.

In my original post on this story I said that Republicans might want to be cautious about going down this road. Two of their most successful candidates in recent years – Governor Doug Burgum and Senator-elect Kevin Cramer – won their way into office by ignoring the NDGOP’s state convention.

The paths they chose rankled many Republican insiders, including District Chairman John Trandem who is spearheading this proposal, but it’s hard to argue with success.

Tonight I can report that those two men have signed a letter to the NDGOP’s state committee urging them not to do away with open primaries.

A screenshot of the letter, provided to me by a Republican source, is below. “Our Republican Party gains its strength from its people,” the letter argues. “When we include as many people as possible we win.”

I agree with the sentiment. While I do buy into the idea that the government ought not dictate process to private organizations, Republicans going to a process wherein the state convention is the final word on nominees would be a mistake.

If the Legislature does away with the June primary vote, I hope the political parties maintain a statewide vote to choose their candidates. Because as Burgum and Cramer note, parties win by addition not subtraction.

Here’s the full letter: