SEEING RED: Divide within North Dakota’s GOP creates friction in 2012 candidate endorsement process

BISMARCK – Republicans in North Dakota face two opponents in 2012: the Democrats they’ll take on in November – and themselves.

Republicans have historically been the dominant political engine in North Dakota, but since the onset of the tea party movement, a philosophical divide has been driving a wedge through the party.

This year’s state and federal candidates represent the warring factions of the Republicans’ loyal base and the rebelling-yet-passionate conservatives who feel the party establishment no longer represents their limited-government principles.

As North Dakota Republicans gather this weekend in Bismarck to endorse a slate of candidates, the party’s in-fighting will likely take a backseat to the energy and enthusiasm sparked by political conventions, especially one in which half of the races are contested.

With 1,940 delegates registered – 70 percent more than the last presidential election year in 2008 – party officials are gearing up for what could be their biggest convention ever.

“The level of excitement within our entire party could not be higher, and it will be on full display in Bismarck,” party spokesman Matt Becker said. “This convention is going to be a blockbuster from start to finish.”

Despite the surface enthusiasm, a pall could still linger among the festivities.

Two diehard Republican candidates very publically declined to join in the traditional endorsement process – the same process they themselves have been supported by several times in the past.

U.S. House candidate Kevin Cramer and U.S. Senate candidate Duane Sand both believe the Republican nominations for their 2012 races should be decided by statewide Republican supporters instead of convention delegates.

Like-minded conservatives support their bold and unprecedented moves.

“The establishment is not happy, but you know, you couldn’t walk into a more lopsided process,” Sand said Thursday, two days after he announced his plans to skip the convention.

Unimpeded by Cramer’s and Sand’s decisions, Republicans will go forward with their traditional selection process, warning candidates who choose not to participate that they “are really doing so at their own peril.”

“This is a process we’re so proud of,” Becker said. “The convention really allows candidates who don’t have as much recognition across the state or as much in the way of resources to get that party backing.”

“I think (Sand and Cramer have) decided that the convention was not going to produce the results that they wanted, so they decided to go outside their own process,” Becker added.

The party endorsement process started with 60 or so statewide district conventions two months ago.

Becker said such a thorough vetting forces candidates to meet face-to-face with potential delegates and talk about the issues.

“It’s something we still value based on our principles,” Becker said, adding: “Anyone who chooses to run outside of that is going to have a much steeper hill to climb to have success in the primary.”

Dissatisfied Republicans say the party’s principles have changed: New blood isn’t as welcome among established candidates or the party elite.

Duane Sand

“It’s just so over the top,” Sand said of the convention process. “Usually, you go into it not knowing who’s going to do what and thinking you’re going to deliver your speech and then the delegates will decide. But it’s so clearly being advertised by the establishment who they support.”

Sand is challenging Rep. Rick Berg for the GOP nomination in the U.S. Senate race. Because of Berg’s status as a sitting congressman and his success two years ago in knocking off a longtime Democratic incumbent, he’s been considered a shoe-in for the party’s endorsement.

With Sand now bypassing the convention, Berg is guaranteed the party’s ceremonial endorsement.

Sand will still have a minimal presence in Bismarck apart from the convention proceedings.

He has tapped former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain to help him raise funds in Fargo and Bismarck through Saturday.

Sand said even the presidential caucus results this year reflect North Dakotans’ unhappiness with the GOP establishment.

“The establishment candidate, Mitt Romney, finished a distant third behind Rick Santorum and Ron Paul,” he said. “The base of the party is no longer where the establishment is.”

Kevin Cramer

Cramer – one of six Republicans campaigning for the U.S. House – also won’t partake in the endorsement for his race.

He plans to attend convention activities today and Saturday, and as a sitting Public Service Commissioner, he’ll be given time to address the delegates about his statewide office.

Out of respect, Cramer said he’s “probably going to disappear during the House nomination” on Sunday.

“I’ll obviously be respectful of the fact that I’m not seeking their endorsement,” Cramer said, acknowledging the potentially awkward situation. “I don’t want to appear to poke them in the eye or disrespect them any more than I already have.”

Because of Sand’s and Cramer’s decisions, this weekend’s endorsements in the federal races are purely ceremonial.

The Republican Party’s official candidate will instead be decided by a statewide vote in the June 12 primary.

Republicans say the contested endorsements won’t hurt the party’s chances for victory in November. They say it’ll strengthen their fight.

“I believe that competition and carrying through the primary process makes whatever candidate is endorsed a better candidate to face off against Heidi Heitkamp,” Sand said, referring to the Democrats’ U.S. Senate candidate.

From the party’s perspective, Becker agreed the contested primaries in June won’t “create a problem for our candidates.”

“In the end, they’re going to receive the support from the vast majority of Republicans in the state,” Becker said, adding that the number of candidates this year “is a huge boost for the party.”

“After our convention, when we’re at a point where we can endorse a candidate for each race, you’re going to see a great unification of our North Dakota Republicans for the candidates,” he said.

5 thoughts on “SEEING RED: Divide within North Dakota’s GOP creates friction in 2012 candidate endorsement process

  1. • How many times have we been told that Romney is a “presumptive and inevitable nominee?” The Establishment and other Romney supporters are trying to get rid of the other candidates whom they have been opposing from the beginning of the campaign. Rick Santorum is a cause candidate. If they don’t handle this issue wisely, there will be many voters who may even refuse in the general. Romney is ignoring about 63%+ of the Republican base who do not trust him. No candidate can win without an excited base. John McCain lost the election in 2008, because Conservatives refused to vote for him. It is a very risky proposition to think that conservatives will vote for any candidate that won’t represent their values because of hatred for BHO policies.
    It is expected from all of us to tell each other the truth and try to have our country come out of its out of control debts, deficits and the gridlock we see in Washington D.C. Most people do not know that there is difference between being a conservative and a republican. There is a big difference. There are liberal/moderate big government republicans in the Republican Party who are simply different from Progressives in name only. There are conservative democrats, republicans, and independents. Instead of concentrating on petty issues such as wearing sweater or defending oneself against a misbehaving reporter, let us concentrate on major issues such as the candidates’ character & integrity and the relevance of their experiences to be a POTUS. Unlike Romney, Rick Santorum has a national security & foreign affairs experiences. Please read online the two acts he authored in 2004: The Iran Freedom & Support Act & the Syrian Accountability Act. Had someone implemented his plan, the current crisis what Iran would have been resolved a long time ago. He is the only one who can challenge BHO when it comes to national security and international affairs. In this volatile world, can we afford to have another novice (Romney) in the oval office? A POTUS is not only a Commander-in-chief of the US Armed Forces but a Chief Legislature. As Commander in Chief & the Chief Legislature, Rick Santorum can start working from day one unlike Mitt Romney. The President of USA has the following main functions: 1)He is the Chief Diplomat – he establishes policies towards other countries and speaks for our country; 2) As Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, he has the power to declare war with the consent of the US Congress; 3) He takes care of the national security of our country through the national security staff and other government agencies; 4) He suggests new laws to Congress; 5) A POTUS is expected to do what is in the best interest of all Americans. It is important to notice that a public office requires special skills different from private sector skills. A POTUS cannot & will not grow an economy and jobs. The mass media and Romney supporters & Romney tell us that private sector business skills are the most important tools to “turn” our economy around. Nothing is further from the truth. The history of past presidents with a private sector experiences show that most of them are not above average and some of them are at the bottom of presidential rankings. The mass media like controversies for their ratings. They would like to have candidates who have similarities so that the outcome of the election could be too close to call. That way, they make sure that so many people would be glued to their TV in order to have more viewers for their ratings. We need a candidate who is not similar to BHO to have a vital debate in fall. We have been told a lie that Romney “can turn our economy around.” NO POTUS has ever done & will ever be able to fix the American economy. Don’t simply take my words for it. Please let us start thinking for ourselves and save America from the brink of a looming disaster. So many people who voted for Mitt Romney believed the lie that he could fix our economy. This is a lie of greatest proportion and so many have not paid attention to it. The government affects a private sector by passing bad or good laws. Those who have been misled believing that a POTUS can turn around our economy and voted for Mitt Romney & the rest of the American people deserve an apology.
    The political leadership of the Republican Party presented Romney as an “incumbent president” saying he is a ‘presumptive and inevitable” nominee even before the IOWA Caucus. In order to discourage the remaining states from voting for Santorum, they have increased endorsements for Romney by the so called prominent figures of the Establishment and increase calls for the only conservative candidate who have excited the base and were able to win about 11 states against all odds. They have never been for him up until now. It is hypocritical on their part to ask someone whom they have never supported to stop campaigning. Along with some mass media they want to project Romney as already a “winner “based on a non-scientific delegate counts. Santorum has hired an expert in delegate counts and is expected to get more delegates from Florida, Arizona and other states. As getting delegates don’t follow a popular vote; and there are many uncommitted and super delegates, let us for now leave delegate counts to the Republican Party and focus on upcoming primaries. I urge voters not be misled by what they hear from the Establishment about a fictitious delegate count and ‘inevitability”. About 70% of the bases do not trust Romney. Some those who have been voting for Romney don’t have a problem to vote for BHO come November 2012. No candidate has ever won and will ever win without the support and excitement of its core base.

  2. Originally posted by Sidramone
    “Here’s what I don’t understand about the Romney campaign: They keep insisting that the race is over and that it’s time for Republicans to unify around a standard-bearer. Yet, instead of reaching out to Rick Santorum and his voters, they keep attacking him. And often in ways that border on the juvenile.
    For instance: Two weeks ago, the Romney campaign made a full-on assault by taking a Santorum line about the unemployment rate completely out of context and pounding it into the sand. Last week, they did the same thing with a Santorum line about the difference between Barack Obama and Romney. Here’s what Santorum said: “You win by giving people a choice. You win by giving people the opportunity to see a different vision for our country, not someone who’s just going to be a little different than the person in there. If you’re going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk with what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate of the future.”
    It’s pretty clear that Santorum is talking about how the general election should be framed for independent voters in order for Republicans to win. Now, here’s how the Romney campaign characterized his statement: “SANTORUM: IF IT’S NOT ME, LET’S RE-ELECT OBAMA.”
    And here’s Romney himself: “I am in this race to defeat Barack Obama and restore America’s promise. I was disappointed to hear that Rick Santorum would rather have Barack Obama as president than a Republican.”
    Then on Saturday, while Santorum was crushing Romney in Louisiana, the Romney campaign sent a spokesman to Santorum’s victory party in Wisconsin to bad-mouth Santorum to reporters.
    None of this is meant as a complaint about the Romney campaign—all’s fair, politics ain’t beanbag, etc. What I’m getting at is that either (1) The race isn’t really as over as the Romney people keep saying it is, or (2) The Romney shop has some interesting theories on how to convince conservatives to come home.”
    From The Weekly Standard.

  3. The mass media and some commentators would like to present Santorum as a candidate whose strength is only in social issues. They deliberately do this in order to have BHO reelected. Santorum is not only the leader in social issues but in national security and foreign policy. Please read the two acts that he authored in 2004: The Iran Freedom Act and the Syrian Accountability Act. Santorum strongly opposes a government intrusion in private sectors. Base on principle, He opposed all bailouts. He condemns the current administration’s infringement on freedom of religion and conscience. The government should not force religious individuals and religious organizations such as catholic schools, charities etc. to provide its employees with contraceptives, morning-after pills (Plan B) and sterilization. This is an infringement on religious freedom and an attack on people of faith.

    Let us take some common factors for all the candidates and
    evaluate them in order to hire one of them as POTUS:

    1. Character and integrity -Santorum wins hands down; No flip-flops in cap & trade, climate change, bailouts, abortion , gay marriage, individual health mandates etc.; Compared to others he has very less or no personal, professional and political issues. He could make Barack Obama and his policies an issue of the general campaign. We cannot afford a candidate who will be an issue in the general campaign.

    2. Humble Beginnings – Santorum wins (lived in public housings and stated his career as a shoe shiner; and from a coal miner grandfather); has less money than Obama and the remaining candidates. There is nothing wrong in having more money. Having less money discourages the left from using class warfare. They cannot say Santorum is part of the 1% who represents the interest of the Wall Street.

    3. Consistency in conservative leadership in sanctity of life & family, consistently supports marriage between a man & a woman, fought for tort reform; fought for welfare reform, Defense of Marriage Act( DOMA), late term abortion and had legislative victories etc.: Santorum has a matchless record in social issues. Romney has started saying he lived having core conservative values. Romney’s father was Rockefeller republican and his mother was pro-choice. He even called himself severely conservative. Is there anyone who could tell us what Romney’s consistent values have been for his life time? Santorum got 75% of the votes by leaders of Evangelicals, Catholics, and Protestants who met early this year in Houston Texas (all candidates sent their surrogates to the two day conference who heard all of them speak for their respective candidates before the votes). He has 88% rating by ACU. He has 98% ratings by NRA while Ron Paul has 50%.

    4. Sound national security and foreign policy: Santorum even won in some of the CNN debates when asked about US foreign policy for Latin America etc. and various issues including issues related to individual mandates and Romney care. No other candidate has an experience in national security & foreign policy like Santorum. Please read online the Iran Freedom & Support Act & the Syrian Accountability act which were authored by Santorum in 2004. Why do we look to a novice (such as Romney and others) in national security and foreign policy when we have already a well experienced candidate (Santorum)? As a person who worked for 8 years as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he knows better about our national security and international interests.

    5. Likability: It is widely believed that Santorum is the most likable candidate with less or almost no personal and professional issues. He is a faithful husband, father of 7 children. He is the best role model for a family.

    6. Economic Policy: Santorum is the only candidate who has a family friendly and manufacturing centered economic policy that helps US to grow our economy and jobs. Through this policy he can win back Reagan democrats, blue collar workers in the swing states. The Wall Street Journal called Santorum’s economic policy bold and supply side economics for the working person.
    7. Negative Campaign; Insider or/and Outsider issue: Romney has already spent more than $60 Million to attack his fellow republicans. He has continued to distort Santorum’s records. Romney is the worst in negative campaign followed by Ron Paul and Gingrich. Romney requested earmarks for Utah Olympics and for Massachusetts. He accuses Santorum as earmarker, insider and big government spender. ABC News recent video exposed Romney’s attitude about receiving earmarks (government money). Getting earmarks and bringing the bacon home gladly was one of the reasons representatives were sent to Washington DC, according to former Senator from Wyoming, Allen Simpson on CSPAN recently. The debt ceiling while Santorum was in US Senate was very much smaller than what it is now. It is better to say that Romney is the current ultimate insider (most elite and Republican establishment still support Romney) because he is for the status quo. Being an insider gives you a better insight and understanding of the problems in the federal government (the three coequal branches of our government). Santorum left the Senate five years ago and has been in private sector since then. Earmark is less than 1% of the US yearly budget and is legal. Resorting to such insignificant issue and an attack by Romney shows his desperation to simply get a vote at any cost.
    8. Debating skills: Although he does not promote himself as the best debater like Newt, Santorum won some of the CNN debates before the one we saw in Arizona (almost all media outlets agreed to the fact that Santorum won based on substance). There are three presidential debates in the fall. The idea that a candidate will have a Douglas – Lincoln debate type is just an illusion and a stunt to get votes. Nobody can force any one to a debate outside of he officially agreed upon three debates to which he may not agree.
    Rupert Murdoch (Owner of the Fox News) said Santorum has a big idea when compared to others.
    Ron Paul is a libertarian. He ran on Libertarian ticket in 1988. He has not ruled out a possibility of running as a third party candidate in 2012. He has not adequately addressed about his racist newsletters published under his name and for which he was the editor. His isolationist foreign policy and his belief that America is responsible for all the attacks against it including 911 and his objection to America’s entry into WWII, which stopped Nazis and communists world domination won’t be acceptable to the majority of Americans. Romney is unreliable and Newt is unpredictable, according to those who closely know them. Romney is not credible to stand against Obama on Obamacre, bailouts, tax increases (had big net tax increases and fees as Governor), supported No Child Left Behind Program and still supports it (although he accuses Santorum of the same). Newt married three times and changed church three times. Newt was for bailouts, TARP, the bogus man made climate change, cap & trade, individual health mandate, member of the Council On Foreign Relations (globalist) since 1990s. Newt divorced twice due to infidelity. Newt thinks that he may set a gas price at $2.50 per gallon. He is not telling us the truth. Gas price is set by OPEC and the free market. Nobody has control on it. This is a stunt to just get our votes. Romney promoted Romney care to BHO to be used as a model for our country in 2009 and denies doing so at irregular intervals. How can Romney & Newt credibly challenge BHO on individual health mandate; Cap & Trade; bailouts; TARP (on all these they have the same position with BHO).The only consistent and genuine conservative who is the man of his words is Rick Santorum. Not only have his supporters’ best opinion of him, some of his critics say he is authentic.

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