MINOT, N.D. — This Saturday, Dec. 18, the North Dakota Republican Party’s state committee will meet to decide the fate of its nominating convention. Will it be an actual nominating convention, with the party’s delegates from across the state endorsing candidates head of the June primary vote? Or will the convention be held after the primary vote, as a sort of symbolic cocktail party that also finalizes the party’s other election-year business?
That may sound like a dull and inconsequential debate, but the story behind how the party reached this juncture is interesting, and how North Dakota’s dominant political organization chooses its candidate matters for every citizen of the state.
Currently, the NDGOP, like the Democratic-NPL, hold an endorsing convention in late March or early April in election years. At that convention, the party chooses national delegates and approves party resolutions, but what gets the most headlines are the candidates for statewide and federal offices who are vying for the endorsement of the party’s delegates so that they can be the Republican candidate in their respective races.
Only, per state law, the endorsing conventions don’t really choose the candidates for the parties. It’s actually the candidate who wins the June primary vote. The only advantage the convention-endorsed candidate receives is the ability to get their name on that ballot without gathering petition signatures.