Tom Campbell’s campaign has reached a point of being embarrassing. As you’re probably already aware, State Senator Kelly Armstrong beat Campbell for the NDGOP endorsement at last week’s State Convention. The numbers weren’t even close. Armstrong came away with 847 votes to Campbell’s 480. As expected, the Campbell campaign filed the paperwork yesterday to run in the June primary.
The decision to move on to the primary was made long before the State Convention. I suppose in his mind, Campbell has way too much of his own money – three quarters of a million dollars at last report – tied up into his campaign to throw in the towel now.
If you recall, Campbell has been campaigning since August. He initially announced for the U.S. Senate race in hopes of taking on Democratic incumbent Heidi Heitkamp in the 2018 general election. Way back then, we questioned whether he was the right candidate for that job. Many Republicans across the state felt a Campbell candidacy would simply mean another six years of Heitkamp.
Campbell’s chances for the U.S. Senate nomination always hinged on the decision of U.S. Congressman Kevin Cramer. Not only was it no secret that Republicans were concerned about Campbell’s ability to defeat Heitkamp, but the consensus was that Cramer was best equipped to do the job.
As time went on, even President Donald Trump got into the mix and encouraged Cramer to get into the U.S. Senate race. By the end of November, we speculated that by the time the convention was over, that Campbell could be the odd man out for both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House races.
In early January, we were the first to break the news that Congressman Cramer had decided to stay put in the U.S. House. This seemingly cleared the way for Campbell, but not before some Republicans scrambled to find an alternative. Even former NDGOP State Chairman Gary Emineth jumped into the race for a bit, before CNN did a hit job on him over some social media posts. By mid-February, North Dakota’s political earthquake took place— Cramer reversed course and jumped into the U.S. Senate race.
With virtually no chance of obtaining the nomination for U.S. Senate, Campbell did as expected and switched his campaign to the U.S. House. By this time, word was already out that Kelly Armstrong was mulling a run as well. The day following Campbell’s switcheroo, Armstrong officially declared his candidacy for the U.S. House, and he accomplished in six weeks what Tom Campbell couldn’t in eight months— he won the majority of support from the party’s faithful.
Campbell continues to brand himself as a “conservative farmer”. The problem is that it’s just not true. Way back in December, we proved that to you by looking over his conservative ranking and important votes on his record. They’re not very impressive. Even the Campbell campaign sought to cover them up by removing them from his Facebook page when someone posted them in response to an inquiry into his voting record.
Early last month, we were the first to publish an article questioning whether Campbell had crossed an unethical line in paying for delegates to attend the State Convention. Some of those delegates ended up paying back the fees.
Campbell’s campaign is largely a hollow one. Without much of a conservative record himself, the potato farmer has had little choice but to brand himself as something he’s not. The best he’s been able to do is to run on the Trump agenda in a state that has been largely pro-Trump. The trouble is that any Republican can do that.
While Tom Campbell’s genuinely a nice man, that’s no reason to send him to Washington. In addition to his conservative ranking and voting record, take a look at his Senate video. It’s not an archive of advocacy, strength, and fortitude.
By staying in this race, Tom Campbell is forcing Kelly Armstrong and the NDGOP to put time, money, and other resources into a primary battle, when those same resources could go towards beating the Democratic opponent in November. This proves what so many have said all along— this is all about Tom Campbell and his self-serving desire to have a seat in the nation’s Capitol. As I said when first writing about Campbell:
“Campbell’s open aspirations for federal office – regardless of which one – leaves many thinking he’s more interested in prestige than advocating for limited government policies in the cesspool known as Washington, DC. I’ve personally heard conversation where it was said that he’d run for dog catcher if it were a federal office. That’s not a good reputation to have if you’re hoping to win.”
The results of last week’s U.S. House race at the State Convention can easily be summed up. Armstrong won because of who he is. Campbell lost because he’s portraying himself as something he’s not.
Tom Campbell needs to cut his losses, accept the results of the convention, and end his campaign now. Doing so may not only save his reputation, but it’ll allow the more conservative candidate – Kelly Armstrong – to focus on what should be the task at hand— beating the Democratic opponent in November.