An informal straw poll of audience members after the Cass County Republicans’ debate shows Goettle and Kalk with comfortable leads ahead of the four other candidates vying for the party’s endorsement in the race this year.
Cass County Republicans released the results of their straw poll late last night, following the two-hour debate in which the candidates traded shots and positions over several public policy topics.
Out of 197 votes, the results of the straw poll were:
- Goettle – 62 votes (31.5 percent)
- Kalk – 55 votes (27.9 percent)
- Fargo legislator Bette Grande – 31 votes (15.7 percent)
- West Fargo legislator Kim Koppelman – 25 votes (12.7 percent)
- Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer – 19 votes (9.6 percent)
- Minot resident DuWayne Hendrickson – 5 votes (2.5 percent)
The results are highly reflective of the candidates’ showing after a December debate in Valley City. Goettle and Kalk also took the highest vote totals in that straw poll, while Grande, Koppelman and Cramer trailed. (Hendrickson was not yet a candidate in the race at that time.)
The major difference between the two straw polls is an increase in support for Koppelman, who had garnered just 5 percent of the straw poll in Valley City.
The party’s endorsed candidate will be decided in late March at the state GOP convention in Bismarck. However, Cramer has decided to forgo the convention, ensuring there will be a contested primary election in June, which will decide the official nominated candidate.
In two previous straw polls conducted separately by the North Dakota Tea Party Caucus and the North Dakota Policy Council, Grande and Cramer led the pack. Those surveys were done in October and mid-November, before all five GOP candidates had declared.