Let’s Just Admit Party Endorsements Don’t Matter

There’s no point in keeping up the charade anymore. While it’s true that political parties in North Dakota — primarily Republicans and Democrats — hold endorsing conventions at both the state and local levels, they’re not as consequential as they should be. And we need to stop pretending that they are.

To start, let’s clarify this reality— endorsements and nominations are not the same thing. While political parties are private organizations, we face the unfortunate reality that North Dakota law does not permit a party’s membership to determine who represents them on ballots. As I wrote last month, it is our opinion here at The Minuteman that conventions should determine nominees, not primaries. But instead, we’re left with a primary system in which anyone can identify as a Republican— candidates and voters alike. It literally provides an easier means for trans-politics, and it’s ridiculous.

Because this is the reality of our election process in the state, there’s a myriad of examples in which candidates have completely bypassed party conventions or ignored them when the results aren’t favorable. A recent example is found in North Dakota’s race for the U.S. House seat that Congressman Kelly Armstrong is leaving to run for Governor of North Dakota.

While former State Representative Rick Becker (R – District 7) was first to declare his candidacy for U.S. House, former State Senator Tom Campbell (R – District 19) followed suit— after flirting with a run for governor. He was followed by Public Service Commissioner — and establishment favorite — Julie Fedorchak and political unknown Alex Balazs. Then Campbell — who had already said he would bypass the convention process — later had second thoughts and dropped out of the race entirely.

All of this set the stage for an interesting North Dakota Republican (NDGOP) State Convention. Becker, though the first to announce his candidacy, was prohibited by party rules from running for the endorsement. This was because of his 2022 run against U.S. Senator John Hoeven as an Independent. As a result, Becker collected signatures to place his name on this June’s ballot as a Republican for the U.S. House race.

With Becker out for the convention, this left Fedorchak and Balazs as the only candidates for the NDGOP endorsement. Fedorchak entered as the favorite, but things didn’t go so well for her, and she ended up dropping after the second ballot. This resulted in the endorsement going to Alex Balazs. Not only had Fedorchak threw in the white towel on securing the party’s endorsement, but she announced at the same time that she intended on going on to the June primary anyhow. In other words, she didn’t care about the endorsement so much.

In the days following the convention, former Miss America Cara Mund officially revealed her candidacy too, as did newcomer Sharlet Mohr. That brought the total to five candidates competing for the Republican nomination for U.S. House in June.

There was a time when many candidates — and the party faithful — honored the outcomes of conventions and threw their support behind those who were endorsed. Those days are past. This is especially true for Republicans where conservatives have gained significant ground in state politics. The establishment, who once had a stranglehold on the party, don’t lecture so much anymore about the importance of supporting endorsed candidates. For example, look at this web page for Julie Fedorchak where she boasts the support of many other establishment Republicans. Yes, that’s right. They’re not supporting the endorsed candidate, Alex Balazs. And they’re not bashful about it either.

Now, let me be clear. I’m not being critical of those who have chosen the petition process to get on the June ballot. Nor am I demonizing supporters of those candidates. After all, not only is this the process provided by law, but it’s the game of politics. You take what the system gives you.

What I am suggesting is that it’s past time that we stop pretending that party endorsements are a big deal. They’re not. Oh, sure, in many instances, the endorsed candidates are successful in their campaigns. But then we have the Kevin Cramer’s and Doug Burgum’s of the world who prefer the primary. In the case of Doug Burgum, he’d not be too sad if the Republican Party eliminated endorsing conventions altogether. That’s been tried before. (As a side note, it may surprise you to know that Governor Doug Burgum has never been endorsed at a State Republican Convention.)

I recently heard about a conservative NDGOP district chair concerned about their colleagues on the State Committee openly supporting unendorsed candidates. The concern being that such open support might somehow jeopardize their moral high ground in future efforts to eliminate the primary as the mechanism for determining nominees of a party. While I understand the premise, for very practical reasons, I say— Stop it.

If conservatives allow their voices for conservative candidates to be stifled simply because those candidates aren’t endorsed by the local or state parties, they’re simply allowing the political establishment to take their voice away. It’s nonsensical. Especially when those they worry about being critical of them — namely big government establishment Republicans — don’t give a rats behind about about the party and the endorsement process anyhow.

Yes, endorsements should matter. Political parties, as a matter of being private organizations, should get to determine who their nominees are. But that’s not the hand we’ve been dealt. We live in a political world that includes an open primary election. Conservatives can — and should — work at changing that. But in the meantime, play the hand that you’re dealt and stop pretending that endorsements matter. Because they don’t.



  1. Conventions Should Determine Nominees, Not Primaries – The Minuteman Blog
  2. Dr. Rick Becker Officially Launches Campaign for Congress (valleynewslive.com)
  3. Former state senator announces run for North Dakota’s lone US House seat | AP News
  4. Former State Senator Tom Campbell to run for Governor | WDAY Radio (wdayradionow.com)
  5. Tom Campbell drops out of race for North Dakota’s U.S. House seat (valleynewslive.com)
  6. Public utilities regulator joins race for North Dakota’s single U.S. House seat | AP News
  7. Another candidate enters race for North Dakota’s US House seat (valleynewslive.com)
  8. Becker turns in petitions to get on the 2024 primary ballot for US Representative | Prairie Public Broadcasting
  9. Rick Becker Wins the NDGOP Convention – The Minuteman Blog
  10. Three last-minute candidates join race for North Dakota’s U.S. House seat – Grand Forks Herald | Grand Forks, East Grand Forks news, weather & sports
  11. Endorsements – Julie Fedorchak for US Congress (fedorchaknd.com)
Facebook Comments
About T. Arthur Mason 883 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.