Here’s an interesting development for those trying to read the 2016 tea leaves in North Dakota: USDA Rural Development director Jasper Schneider is stepping down.
Schneider is a former lawmaker who ran for Insurance Commissioner way back in 2008, losing by a slim margin to current Commissioner Adam Hamm. After that he accepted an appointment to his current position by President Barack Obama, but he’s long been rumored as a possible candidate again.
In fact, in the 2014 cycle, Schneider was named as a possible opponent for Rep. Kevin Cramer by then-Democrat Party Chairman Bob Valeu. Schneider had also been paying to promote his Facebook page in that same cycle, and those two issues combined led some to believe that he may have been violating the Hatch Act which prohibits federal employees from engaging in political activities.
Schneider and federal employees like him cannot discuss running for elected office with party leaders, or engage in campaigning like Facebook promotion of themselves, while still holding their offices.
So given the previous political intrigue around Schneider, and the fact that he’s stepping down well in advance of the end of Obama’s term in office, will no doubt have some speculating that he may be running for one office or another.
And he probably will. Because, let’s face it, how many credible candidates for statewide offices do North Dakota Democrats really have?