State Rep. Rick Becker of Bismarck was the first Republican to announce his candidacy for the open governor seat in 2016. He is seeking the NDGOP endorsement for that seat, and is facing off against Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, but rumors recently have suggested that Becker may have a backup plan that involves the Libertarian Party.
Becker attended the state convention for the Libertarian Party in Mandan last month, I was told. And out of that convention the Libertarians announced a slate of candidates that included a candidate for lieutenant governor…but not governor.
“The Libertarian nominations for governor and state treasurer were postponed to a later date,” the Bismarck Tribune reported.
That’s a little odd, given that in North Dakota governors and lieutenant governors are elected as a team just like the president and vice president on the national ballot. Now some political gossips are speculating that the Libertarians may be holding open their nomination for Becker should he fail to receive the NDGOP nod.
“It’s true that I did go to the libertarian convention,” Becker told me when I spoke to him about the rumors yesterday. “I was there for about 45 minutes because I know some of the people there. I was asked if I would consider running on the libertarian ticket and I respectfully declined.”
Becker has told me that he plans to seek the NDGOP endorsement at their convention. When I asked him last night if he will continue to campaign in a primary race should convention delegates deny him their nomination, he hedged a bit.
“I’ll say it this way, very politically, if I go to the convention and fail to get the endorsement it’s highly unlikely that I will then go to the primary,” he said.
Highly unlikely does not mean impossible.
I asked him if he meant as a Republican or a Libertarian. “As anything,” he replied.
“I’m very much in the Republican camp. I intend to make the Republican party stronger by more closely adhering to small government policies,” he continued. “If I hedge it’s for one reason only. Having to play the game of strategizing with my competition.”
UPDATE: Libertarian Party organizer Tony Mangnall emailed me a response to the post.
“I am disappointed he didn’t join us, because he is basically a Libertarian in all but name,” he said. “I’m pretty certain he wouldn’t run with us this cycle even if he doesn’t get the nomination from the Republicans though.”
“We appointed Josh Voytek as our Lt Governor basically because he was willing to hold the place until we are ready to announce our Governor candidate,” he added. “However, that candidate, once announced, is free to bring on their own Lt Gov on board if they choose.”