We’re moving ever closer to the June primary. With the Secretary of State’s office having sent out ballot applications for the mail-only election, it’s crunch time for candidates across the state.
There’s no question that the response to COVID-19 is having a significant impact on the way campaigns are run. With things like going door-to-door and holding meet-and-greets being strongly discouraged, candidates are having to maximize efforts in other ways.
When it comes to the State Treasure’s race between State Representatives Dan Johnston (R – District 24) and Thomas Beadle (R – District 27), we’re now seeing a battle of endorsements. U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer and outgoing State Treasurer Kelly Schmidt are backing Johnston. Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Governor Doug Burgum have thrown their support behind Beadle.
What these endorsements illustrate are some fairly serious differences between the candidates. Its most definitely brought a significant rift within the NDGOP out into the light for all of North Dakota to see. Governor Burgum’s endorsement is the perfect illustration of that, as he has been seeking to defeat conservative candidates around the state this year. (For more on that, you can see here, here, and here.)
The most perplexing endorsements in this race came two days ago though. Former House Majority Leader Al Carlson (R – District 41) and current Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R – District 37) publicly endorsed Thomas Beadle.
If you support the political establishment in Bismarck — you know, the one that drove up spending to unprecedented levels for over a decade — then these endorsements make sense. To the casual observer, seeing two “Majority Leaders” endorse a candidate might even come across as impressive. But to anyone who wants to “drain the swamp” in Bismarck, this is shameful.
Al Carlson served in the House for 26 years before he was ousted in the 2018 General Election. People had grown so weary of him that out of four candidates, he came in fourth. Even many of his colleagues in the House were happy to see him go. Take it for what it’s worth, but in his last Legislative Session, he scored a paltry 55% with the American Conservative Union. He’s now trying to get back into politics by running for Cass County Commissioner.
Rich Wardner has been in the North Dakota Legislature for nearly 30 years— almost 22 of those in the Senate. While there’s much that could be said about his record, many of us know him best for his role in trying to bring Red Flag Laws to the state during the 2019 Legislative Session. Wardner was one of eight Republicans who signed onto that effort. In fact, eight of the ten sponsors were so-called Republicans. His lifetime rating with the American Conservative Union is 57%.
With these endorsements, we get a clearer picture of what Tom Beadle represents. And it isn’t good for North Dakota. Support like this should be shunned, not embraced. But then again, Beadle has been part of the problem, not the solution. So, I suppose it really isn’t surprising at all.
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