MINOT, N.D. — There are an abnormally large number of contested primaries in the North Dakota Republican Party’s legislative races this year, thanks in part to redistricting, but mostly due to the ideological divide that has erupted in the party.
Traditional conservatives are taking on Trumpy, culture warrior populists aligned with the Bastiat Caucus in the Legislature.
These races are almost impossible to handicap, but one solid data point we have available to us to help discern who might be best positioned to win is money. By that measure, the traditional conservatives are winning. I wrote about it last week , and Bismarck Tribune reporter Jack Dura reached similar conclusions in his review of campaign finance disclosures this week .
But there’s a variable in these races that few are talking about. State Rep. Rick Becker founded the Bastiat Caucus and helped rally its candidates with his vigorous but ultimately unsuccessful convention challenge to incumbent U.S. Sen. John Hoeven this spring. If the Bastiats have a singular leader, it’s Becker, but as those candidates struggle to raise money they’re seeing little help from the man who was, at least at one point, at the top of their ticket.
A search of the secretary of state’s campaign disclosure database shows Becker has made just three donations to legislative candidates this year for a total of $750. He also gave $2,500 from his legislative campaign (he’s not running for re-election) to the North Dakota Young Republicans, which is a group controlled by the Bastiats.