UPDATE: Schaffner has now informed me, as of about 1:15am on Feb. 1, that he is again not running.
A third candidate has announced that he will be seeking the NDGOP nomination for the U.S. Senate.
Paul Schaffner of Bismarck sent me the press release below tonight. He also posted his announcement to a Facebook group for North Dakota Republicans:
Schaffner actually emailed me a copy of his press release at 10:36 yesterday evening (January 30), but followed up with an email to me in the wee hours of this morning withdrawing his candidacy:
I didn’t do anything with the release because I assumed Schaffner wasn’t running. Apparently he changed his mind. This evening I got another email from Schaffner. Apparently he was involved in a traffic accident which made him second guess his candidacy?
It’s…a bizarre timeline, to be sure.
Working against Schaffner might be his criminal background. According to the state’s online criminal database, since 2010 in the South Central Judicial District alone Schaffner has two convictions for reckless driving (at least one of which started as an arrest for driving under the influence), a charge for failing to register a motor vehicle, a speeding violation, and most recently he was found guilty of soliciting prostitution in November:
The reckless driving convictions are one thing. We have that issue in another race. Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger announced his re-election bid not all that long after pleading guilty to driving under the influence, the latest incident in a struggle with alcohol addiction that stretches back at least to the 2014 election cycle.
But soliciting prostitution? That’s a whole ‘nother ballgame.
Schaffner has run for federal office before. In October of 2009 he launched a campaign against Kevin Cramer and Rick Berg for the NDGOP’s nomination for the U.S. House, though he withdrew his candidacy by February well before the party’s state convention.
At the time the Associated Press reported that Schaffner was working as an insurance agent. He previously played football, he was a linebacker, at NDSU and coached football at the University of Mary.
Here is Schaffner’s press release: