Last month, the Dem-NPL held their State Convention. As a result of that event, Mac Schneider obtained his party’s endorsement for U.S. House. Earlier this month, the NDGOP held their State Convention. Former party chairman and State Senator Kelly Armstrong ran away with the Republican endorsement for U.S. House. According to reports, the two are now set to square off in their first debate on May 5th in Bismarck.
As you probably know, while party endorsements are often valuable to a candidate’s campaign, they are not the determining factor in who obtains a party’s nomination as a candidate in the general election. That decision is made by voters in a primary election. Recent examples of candidates who didn’t receive their party’s endorsement at a State Convention, but went on to win the primary and general election, are U.S. Congressman Kevin Cramer and Governor Doug Burgum.
While nobody is challenging Mac Schneider for the Dem-NPL nomination in the June primary, the same cannot be said of Kelly Armstrong. Both Tiffany Abentroth and Paul Schaffner met the requirements of the April 9th filing deadline to appear on the primary ballot as Republican challengers to Armstrong.
Abentroth and Schaffner both attended the NDGOP State Convention, but neither of them had very good showings. Abentroth garnered just 27 delegate votes and Schaffner managed just 1. It was fairly well known prior to the convention that Abentroth would continue on to the primary, but Schaffner’s filing was somewhat of a surprise. Not only was his convention appearance odd (his nomination speech was given by a young girl – instead of a delegate – and he had no seconding speech), but attendees understood him as saying he’d honor the results of the convention.
Given the totality of both candidates’ campaigns, it’s widely held that neither Abentroth or Schaffner have much of a chance against Armstrong in the primary. Armstrong’s greatest competition would’ve been Tom Campbell, but he dropped out the day after filing for a primary run. And while his name will still appear on the ballot, he’s endorsed Armstrong’s candidacy.
So, despite their poor convention showings – and the uphill battle for them in their primary run – Abentroth and Schaffner are still candidates for the Republican nomination for U.S. House. Should the North Dakota Newspaper Association – who is hosting the May 5th debate – be inviting them to participate with Armstrong and Schneider? I think so.
Does involving them make for a more crowded field? Certainly. Would it change the logistics of the debate? Absolutely. But they’re candidates. And as such, I say let them in to make their case to the voters. Then people can decide for themselves whether they’re legitimate contenders or not.
What do you think? I’m interested in your thoughts.