Late last week I broke a story about Congressman Kevin Cramer reconsidering entrance into the U.S. Senate race.
Since then I’ve had reports from numerous sources saying the Congressman is under an intense amount of pressure to run. According to a source close to the Cramer campaign, President Donald Trump has been in contact with the Congressman no less than three times now urging him to run with at least one of those contacts coming after Cramer had announced he was staying in the U.S. House.
All of which jibes with this Washington Examiner piece quoting Republican officials who sound positively desperate to get Cramer into the race. “Kevin Cramer might be the most heavily recruited candidate in the history of Republican politics,” is quote reporter David Drucker attributes to a Republican insider.
The piece also throws a lot of dirt on state Senator Tom Campbell who has been campaigning since last summer but hasn’t exactly wowed anyone so far, particularly in the area of fundraising.
According to the Examiner piece, Campbell has some skeletons in the closet, though bizarrely Drucker seems obsessed with Campbell’s support for hemp farming. Which a) isn’t a controversial issue at all here in North Dakota and b) let’s remember that voters in this state overwhelmingly legalized medical marijuana in 2016.
A party operative forwarded the Washington Examiner these bullet points from the opposition research on Campbell, along with accompanying explanatory information:
- Campbell’s bank has foreclosed on North Dakota farmers.
- Campbell was sued for fraud over the life insurance policy he obtained on his mother.
- In 2015, then-state Sen. Campbell co-sponsored a bill easing licensing requirements for industrial hemp production in North Dakota.
- Campbell shares intentions of growing hemp on his own farm.
“Campbell’s bank has foreclosed on a number of ND farmers. All Democrats need to do is put one on camera and he’s toast. And that’s before they tell everyone how he lied on a life insurance application to get rich off of his own mother’s death,” said the Republican operative who provided the information.
The hemp farming thing is just weird, and illustrates the dangers of relying on analysis coming from out of state political operatives, but the bank issue could have legs for Heitkamp. It wouldn’t be fair – banks foreclose, it’s just part of the business – but being fair to the opposition isn’t something a politician as ruthless as Heitkamp is would worry about.
The life insurance issue with Campbell’s mother is also a strange thing. Essentially a company which had issued a life insurance policy to Campbell and his family decided not to pay out because the Campbells allegedly didn’t disclose applications for coverage made to other companies. The Campbells argued that their insurance broker may have been aware of that issue but they didn’t. In 2008 a federal judge (see below) found “there is a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the Campbells colluded with (the insurance agent) in failing to disclose” but ultimately the matter was settled privately.
I’ve had people pitching me to write about that story for months now, but it doesn’t seem like all that big a deal to me.
Anyway, the larger point here is that a Republicans (or, at least, a faction there of) really want Cramer to run. And they’re really unenthusiastic about Campbell being the candidate against Heitkamp.