Earlier this month, we published an article in which I was critical of the way in which the NDGOP handled the selection and announcement of their keynote speaker for the State Convention in Grand Forks. In a nutshell, I just don’t think it’s good practice for the party to hold off on their selection and announcement until the week going into a convention.
While I stand by those feelings, I’ll also say that Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke – the NDGOP’s choice for the keynote address – really seemed to impress North Dakota’s Republican delegates. Not only does the former Montana congressman have family connections to North Dakota, but his experience as a Navy Seal and ability to connect on issues like traditional values, lower taxes, immigration, border security, and energy really resonated with convention-goers.
According to reports back in February, Zinke had been invited to speak at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference to be held in Bismarck May 22nd-24th. But a report this morning shows that, from the dozens speaking at the event, he’s now been invited to be the keynote speaker.
The attendance at this years 26th annual conference is expected to be about 2,500— that’s about 1,000 more than Zinke spoke to at the NDGOP State Convention earlier this month. Some delegates to the State Convention initially expressed their disappointment at the NDGOP’s choice of Zinke as their keynote. But based off of my observations, he won them over. I’m guessing he’ll have no problem doing the same next month at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference.