Rick Becker Wins the NDGOP Convention

Rick Becker is North Dakota's preeminent limited government figure.

Eight years ago, State Representative Rick Becker (R – Bismarck) made an inspirational run for North Dakota governor. While Becker ultimately came in second to Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem for the party’s endorsement — who then went on to lose to current Governor Doug Burgum in the June primary — Becker’s run catapulted a movement that’s grown ever since. And that movement culminated in victories for Becker at this last weekend’s NDGOP State Convention in Fargo.

While Becker is currently a Republican candidate for U.S. House, to replace the outgoing Kelly Armstrong, Article X, Rule 10 of state party rules prohibited him from running for the party’s endorsement. This rule excludes anyone who has ran for statewide office for another party or as an Independent for a period of six years. You might recall that Becker challenged U.S. Senator John Hoeven in the 2022 general election as an Independent. This meant Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak and the unknown Alex Balasz were left to battle it out for the right to be the NDGOP’s endorsed candidate in 2024.

The endorsement for U.S. House was the last race on the convention agenda. But it’s what led up to its final balloting that made this convention one for the ages.

National Electors

In a presidential election year, it is the responsibility of the delegates to determine who its national electors will be. These are the individuals who ultimately cast North Dakota’s three votes in the Electoral College for the presidential candidate who wins the state in our general election.

State party rules require its Committee on Permanent Organization to present a recommended slate of three individuals to fill these spots. The slate this year included former State Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, Linda Butts of Bismarck, and former State Representative Kim Koppelman. But conservatives — who proved to dominate the convention — nominated State Senator Jeff Magrum and Rick Becker from the floor.

Once ballots were counted, it was the conservative choices of Koppelman, Becker, and Magrum that were the top vote getters— and it wasn’t even close.

Koppelman – 1,005
Becker – 843
Magrum – 787
Wardner – 408
Butts – 375

National Delegates

Much like the National Electors, the Committee on Permanent Organization also recommends a slate of delegates to the party’s National Convention. Per state party rules, the state’s sitting Republican governor, U.S. Senators, and U.S. Congressman all receive automatic nominations. And it’s customary that they end up on the committee’s recommended slate as well. It’s arguably an example of political entitlement. Only this year grassroots activists pushed like-minded delegates to vote for their own slate of individuals— a slate with none of the aforementioned officeholders on it.

Once again — just like the effort on National Electors — it worked. When the votes were tallied, it was Governor Doug Burgum, Senators John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer, and Rep. Kelly Armstrong who were on the outside looking in as alternates instead. In addition, former State Party Chair Perrie Schafer — together with other establishment names who had been recommended — failed to make the cut as delegates as well.

And here’s where it gets really interesting— Who were the leading vote getters? State Auditor Josh Gallion and Rick Becker. Are there two figures in state politics that are more despised by big government establishment Republicans than these two? Probably not.

Spoiled Ballots

With the momentum of these victories, Becker Backers decided that they weren’t finished yet. They made the decision to voice their displeasure with the rule prohibiting him from running for the party’s endorsement. To do this, it was determined that they would write-in Becker on Round 1 of balloting between Fedorchak and Balasz.

The effect of doing so would be spoiled ballots, which — interestingly enough — actually counts towards the number of “ballots cast”. This meant that it was possible for Becker Backers to prohibit either Fedorchak or Balasz from achieving a majority in Round 1.

With District 2 Chair Jerol Gohrick reporting “spoiled ballots for Rick Becker” in his numbers, it set the tone for others to do the same. And before long, everyone in the convention knew that the spoiled ballots — attributed to Becker or not — were his. When the final vote tally was announced, neither Fedorchak nor Balasz had achieved the number needed for a majority.

Julie Fedorchak – 611
Alex Balasz – 403
Spoiled Ballots – 382

Rick Becker then took to the mic, explained that his supporters had felt disenfranchised by the rule prohibiting him to run for the endorsement, and that their voices had been heard. He then encouraged everyone to cease spoiling ballots and to either cast a ballot for one of the other candidates or to abstain from voting.

Becker Backers Swing it for Balasz

When Round 2 of balloting was completed, the tally showed newcomer Alex Balasz had edged Julie Fedorchak 605 to 599. But just enough ballots were spoiled, so this was actually just a few votes shy of the needed majority. A very angry Julie Fedorchak then took to the mic, chastised Rick Becker and his supporters, and proceeded to withdraw her name from consideration for the endorsement. As a result, Balasz became the endorsed candidate.

Fedorchak has already secured the needed signatures, so her name will still appear on the June primary ballot as well.

Conclusion

The difference between this convention and the one eight years ago is significant. There’s undoubtedly still a lot of work to be done to improve the condition of the NDGOP. Establishment forces certainly aren’t happy. They made that abundantly clear this last weekend. Yet, that’s not really a surprise. After all, the man they thought they’d kept from being able to win the convention ended up being a winner after all.

Sources:

  1. Kelly Armstrong, North Dakota’s lone congressman, runs for governor | AP News
  2. Platform and Rules – North Dakota Republican Party (ndgop.org)
Facebook Comments
About T. Arthur Mason 882 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.