Will Hoeven & Cramer Chastise Burgum About Unity?

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum

Last Saturday was the North Dakota Republican Party’s (NDGOP) state convention. Not only were delegates silenced on the rules, but the convention as a whole was quite a mess. Amidst it all, the delegates got to hear calls from Senators John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer for unity within the party. Their message on this point was simplistic— Democrats are the enemy, not each other.

Just how serious are Hoeven and Cramer on this issue of unity within the party? Argue it if you’d like, but I think it’s clear that both men’s comments were directed at so-called “Becker Backers”, not the body as a whole. If they claim otherwise, they’re about to have another opportunity to prove it.

What is that opportunity? Well, it appears Governor Doug Burgum has fired up his political action committee (PAC) again. You know, the one that regularly pummeled our mailboxes during the 2020 election cycle under the name Dakota Leadership PAC. That year Burgum dropped more than $3.2 million of his own money into races and much of it was used to campaign against conservative Republicans.

The Secretary of State website shows that Burgum’s PAC was once again registered on January 31st of this year. Political whispers in recent days say that the governor has already committed millions to it. Whether that speculation is true won’t be known until the upcoming campaign filing deadline hits in less than a month.

The first time I wrote about Burgum’s quest against conservatives was February of 2020. In May of that same year, I also wrote about Dakota Leadership PAC and the fact that Burgum was running it with former staffers. At the time, one of his primary targets was District 8 incumbent Jeff Delzer— who also chairs the powerful House Appropriations Committee. Another conservative candidate Burgum set his sights on was former State Representative Dan Johnston (R – District 24). At the time, Johnston was challenging fellow lawmaker Rep. Thomas Beadle (R – District 27) for the right to replace Kelly Schmidt as State Treasurer. The governor threw his money into a number of other races too.

In the end, both Delzer and Johnston lost their primary races. Johnston’s loss undoubtedly came as a result of Democrats crossing over to vote for Beadle. But in an odd twist of unfortunate circumstances, one of Delzer’s challengers — David Andahl — passed away from COVID-19 a month prior to the general election. Though deceased, Andahl won anyhow and Burgum attempted to appoint his replacement. A lawsuit ensued and the North Dakota Supreme Court ruled against the governor and left it to the District 8 Republican Executive Committee to do the appointing— and they chose Delzer.

In the aftermath of Dakota Leadership PAC’s con job on primary voters, I suggested there would be fallout in two ways:

  1. Legislators would be looking over their shoulders wondering if they’d be targeted next if they crossed the governor.
  2. Some folks would refrain from even bothering to run for legislature or statewide office for fear of being unable to compete with Burgum’s dollars and dirty campaign tactics.

There’s little question that the former has become a reality. And when it comes to the latter, we need look no further than Deputy Secretary of State Jim Silrum. Those associated with NDGOP circles long expected Silrum to be the leading candidate to replace long-time incumbent Secretary of State Al Jaeger. But his candidacy never materialized. Instead, State Representative Michael Howe (R – District 22) ran unopposed in last Saturday’s state convention. Why? Because it was well-known that he was the “Burgum candidate”. In other words, Silrum would have to go up against the Burgum machine. And multiple reports have it that he didn’t see a path to victory, so he simply didn’t bother trying.

(As a side note, Michael Howe will have a challenger in the primary. Political newcomer Marvin Lepp has thrown his hat into the ring. You can see his platform here.)

With Dakota Leadership PAC registered for the 2022 cycle, it certainly appears obvious that Governor Doug Burgum is preparing a barrage of attacks on conservatives once again. And there’s plenty of candidates out there he’d love to see lose. Do you suppose Senators Hoeven and Cramer will preach unity to the state’s chief executive like they did the delegates? Time will tell, but I’m guessing those are crickets we hear in the distance.

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Sources:

  1. Establishment Silences Delegates at NDGOP Convention – The Minuteman Blog
  2. Those Who Didn’t Want NDGOP Convention Shouldn’t Have Planned It – The Minuteman Blog
  3. North Dakota Secretary of State – Campaign Finance Online (nd.gov)
  4. North Dakota Secretary of State – Campaign Finance Online (nd.gov)
  5. North Dakota Century Code t16.1c08.1 (ndlegis.gov)
  6. Reports Say Burgum Seeking to Defeat Conservative Candidates – The Minuteman Blog
  7. District 8 House Race- Is Burgum Using Former Staffers to Defeat an Enemy? – The Minuteman Blog
  8. RICK BECKER: Burgum & Democrat Crossovers are Bad for Republicans – The Minuteman Blog
  9. David Andahl – Wikipedia
  10. Conned: The Potential Fallout From Burgum’s Campaign Victories Against Conservatives – The Minuteman Blog
  11. Michael Howe for Secretary of State (howefornd.com)
  12. Marvin Lepp for North Dakota Secretary of State – With a humble heart I proceed. (leppfornd.com)
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About T. Arthur Mason 874 Articles
T. Arthur Mason is a native North Dakotan who has spent nearly all of his life in the Peace Garden State. As the third of four children in Western North Dakota, Mason grew to appreciate family and the outdoors. Some of his fondest memories are annual deer hunts with family and friends. In his early teenage years, faith became a central part of T. Arthur Mason's life. He and the majority of his family attend church together on a weekly basis and find this a fulfilling aspect of their lives. Through the influence of his father, T. Arthur Mason became intrigued with politics. As a boy, he attended political events with his father and enjoyed the friendships that resulted as a byproduct of those political associations. As Mason grew older, he became convinced that the quote often attributed to Thomas Jefferson was true, "That government is best which governs least." Today, T. Arthur Mason enjoys time with his wife and children, an occasional hunt, and an increasingly active life on the political scene. This blog is the fulfillment of a dream to design a web site in the realm of politics and to advocate for the principles of Liberty and constitutionally limited government. On behalf of all those that contribute to The Minuteman, we hope you enjoy your time on the site and will share the message with others.