VOTE: Who should be the GOP’s endorsed U.S. House candidate?

What’s at stake this weekend and a glimpse at the future of N.D.’s congressional race

BISMARCK – North Dakota’s U.S. House race will have a few less candidates come Monday, after state Republicans endorse their favored candidate here this weekend.

With five of the six GOP candidates seeking the party’s backing at the state convention, the House endorsement process is sure to be one of the liveliest of this weekend’s festivities.

Depending on how the endorsement shakes out, delegates might have to cast as many as six ballots before their nominee is chosen. Because of that, Republicans have set aside all-day Sunday, so they can focus on the U.S. House race. (All the other endorsements will unfold on Saturday.)

It’s the culmination of months of campaigning across the state, and Republican delegates have to take sides. It’s between Shane Goettle, Brian Kalk, Bette Grande, Kim Koppelman and DuWayne Hendrickson.

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But of course – this isn’t the end of the Republicans’ battle.

The sixth candidate, Kevin Cramer, isn’t seeking his party’s endorsement this weekend and plans to challenge the Republicans’ endorsed candidate in the June primary.

It’s possible at least one other candidate could compete in the summer contest as well.

Since December, Grande has made various statements, in which she leaves the door open to potentially running in the June primary if she doesn’t secure the endorsement on Sunday.

She restated that position last week, saying she’s “not going to give away what’s a right.”

“There’s always been a choice and an option for any number of people,” Grande said. “My whole point is, we don’t give away a right to something because someone chose a different path.”

In contrast, Kalk, Goettle, Koppelman and Hendrickson all reiterated their pledges to support whoever the endorsed candidate at the convention is.

Assuming the four men stick to their pledges and depending on what happens with Grande, there should be no more than three Republicans left in the U.S. House race come Monday, perhaps only two.

That still means three more months of intra-party campaigning between the remaining Republican contenders. Then, a statewide vote of Republican supporters will decide the official GOP candidate in the June 12th primary.

Whoever that is will take on Democrat Pam Gulleson in the general election, which will determine who North Dakota’s next member of Congress is.

The other wild card in the mix is Fargo libertarian Eric Olson, who’s also running in the U.S. House race. However, as a third-party candidate, Olson’s presence on the primary ballot depends on whether his party collects enough signatures.

North Dakota libertarians need 7,000 signatures in order to get a column on the June ballot. Then, like all other candidates, Olson could move on to the general election contest only if he receives at least 300 votes in the primary.

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