Delegates and media and political flacks are filtering into the Scheels Arena this morning for the first day of the NDGOP convention.
I think there were probably more people standing in line outside of the arena than there were seated delegates at the Democrat convention yesterday.
The joke as people are coming in is the spelling error in Superintendent of Schools candidate Joe Chiang’s booth banner, where he is warning against “Parisian” politics.
— John Hageman (@jhageman_) April 2, 2016
Anyway, the delegates will endorse candidates for the U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races today.
The Senate endorsement is a formality. Senator John Hoeven is running for another six-year term. I’m not sure even the Democrats will ultimately run a candidate against him, let alone a Republican challenger.
The gubernatorial race is the headliner today. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Doug Burgum, Wayne Stenehjem, and Rick Becker are vying for the nomination.
Having spent last night and this morning talking to delegates, my bet (if I were a betting man) would be on Stenehjem winning on the first ballot. People close to the campaign say they count 1,000 solid delegates on their side. Given that the convention is expected to see around 1,700 seated delegates, that would be enough to get over 50 percent and the endorsement.
The Burgum campaign is spending big, though. In addition to the normal stuff – blanketing the convention headquarters and Scheels Arena with signs and pamphlets – Burgum had a truck driving around with a campaign banner on it and staged a concert last night featuring North Dakota musical act Tigirlily.
Burgum has said he doesn’t expect to win at the convention, but I think he knows he has to make at least a respectable showing here. IF he comes in third on the first ballot? After spending over $625,000 on broadcast advertising and who-knows-how-much on everything else, that doesn’t look good.
Even though Burgum conceded the convention, he can’t look like a marginal candidate at this point. A bad showing on the first ballot would do just that.
UPDATE: Was just told that Burgum bought something like 150 guest passes for non-delegates to get on the convention floor to fill out his floor demonstration. Which isn’t something you have to do when you have a lot of actual delegates supporting you.
UPDATE: Apparently candidate Rick Becker distributed a color book to delegates:
— Luke Schields (@luccajam) April 2, 2016