Yesterday was the 100 day mark in Tom Campbell’s campaign bid for the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by Democratic incumbent Heidi Heitkamp. As the only declared Republican candidate, one would think that the ultra-successful potato farming State Senator from Grafton would be the perceived front runner. And technically I suppose he is. But unfortunately for the Campbell campaign, that’s just not the perception in North Dakota political circles.
Initially it appeared the field for U.S. Senate would be a crowded one, but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Rick Berg – the former opponent to Heidi Heitkamp in 2012 – doesn’t appear to be in. State Representative Rick C. Becker (R – District 7) hasn’t announced and the current feeling is that he won’t. And we reported over three weeks ago that Western North Dakota geologist Kathleen Neset was out. Rob Port reported the same last week .
With these potential candidates seemingly all out of the mix for U.S. Senate, that leaves us with Border States Electric CEO Tammy Miller– who we reported as being set for a run at U.S. Senate when we reported Neset was out three weeks ago. And then there’s the big one– Congressman Kevin Cramer may just jump into the race for U.S. Senate after all. We reported on this about three and a half weeks ago . And all indications are that he is indeed paving the way for a run– with the encouragement of President Donald Trump.
Last week I spoke with a NDGOP insider who told me it’s all but certain that if Cramer jumps in Campbell will switch his campaign to a run for U.S. House instead. Which makes sense if we consider the fact that it’s very unlikely he can beat Cramer in a primary race.
Lending credence to the idea that Campbell would switch to a U.S. House campaign – in the event that Cramer announces – is the fact that none of Campbell’s current ads say anything about U.S. Senate . They speak only in terms of “Congress” and “Washington”. The references on his website to U.S. Senate could easily be changed to U.S. House and all of his ads could continue to be utilized– with no additional expense.
And running against a weak opponent like former Democratic State Representative Ben Hanson (District 16) for U.S. House isn’t that tall of an order for Campbell either.
But Campbell’s problem isn’t Ben Hanson. His problem lies within his own party. It’s no secret that the NDGOP has courted both Miller and Neset – two successful businesswomen – while Campbell has been actively campaigning. Is this an indication he’s not being embraced by the party elite as the best candidate to take on Heitkamp?
Furthermore, what if Cramer’s move to a U.S. Senate race means someone like Tammy Miller also decides running a primary race against Cramer isn’t worth it and she jumps in on the House side too? Can Campbell beat Miller? And who’s to say other candidates don’t jump in as well? Does a split field help or hurt Campbell? Would Campbell be perceived as weak or wise by switching campaigns?
Admittedly, we’re dealing with a lot of hypotheticals and unanswered questions. Many of which seem to hinge on Congressman Kevin Cramer’s decision. But isn’t it interesting that 100 plus days into a campaign, it just may be that Tom Campbell ends up as the odd man out – after being the first one in – for a bid to represent North Dakota in Washington, DC?
1. https://www.theminutemanblog.com/single-post/2017/11/06/Source-Says-Border-States-Electric-CEO-Tammy-Miller-Set-for-Senate-Race 2. https://www.sayanythingblog.com/entry/sbhe-member-kathy-neset-not-challenging-heitkamp-senate-race/ 3. https://www.theminutemanblog.com/single-post/2017/11/03/Move-Over-Tom-Campbell-Trump-Wants-Cramer-to-Run-for-Senate 4. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHWkoD-WPkF4f-9mvAOzB9g