Kelly Armstrong accomplished in just over six weeks what Tom Campbell couldn’t do in about eight months— he won the majority of support from the North Dakota Republican Party faithful. With six U.S. House candidates expected to speak at the State Convention Saturday, delegates had settled in for a political marathon. In fact, delegates were informed that they could expect as many as seven ballots to determine the winner of the NDGOP endorsement. But it wasn’t even close.
As the first ballot of voting was completed, and the votes were counted, State Senator Kelly Armstrong not only secured enough to win, but he ran away with it. Armstrong won 847 delegate votes to Tom Campbell’s 480. Tiffany Abentroth garnered 27 votes, late-comer Charles Tuttle 24, and Paul Schaffner 1. DuWayne Hendrickson showed up to the convention, but was unable to find anyone to give his nominating and seconding speeches, so he left and didn’t address the delegates. He still managed 1 vote though.
In visiting with some delegates, the reasons for Armstrong’s domination was two-fold. First, he ran an exceptional campaign – during a short period of time – in which he successfully sold himself as the most conservative candidate in the race. Second, Campbell’s campaign and candidacy as a “conservative farmer” lacks credibility.
On the one hand, Armstrong hammered home example after example of things he had accomplished as a State Senator to bolster his conservative credentials. On the other hand, Campbell spoke more in terms of political platitudes. As one delegate told me, “We’ve heard this all before. Most candidates say this stuff. Armstrong has the record and a spine to back it up.”
Of course, it’s no surprise, but with so much of his own time and money invested into the campaign, Tom Campbell has decided to continue his fight to the June primary. We’ll write more about that later on this week. Tiffany Abentroth has expressed her intention to do the same.