NDGOP Infighting Will Likely Mean More Primary Challenges

During the 2020 Republican Primary in District 28, Senator Robert Erbele and Rep. Mike Brandenburg chose to campaign with Jim Grueneich. This was in spite of the fact that Grueneich was not endorsed as a candidate by District 28 Republicans. That distinction belonged to incumbent Rep. Jeff Magrum. Despite this, Magrum went on to win the primary election and was the leading vote getter in the general election. (File Photo)

The final district reorganization meeting for the North Dakota Republican Party took place last night. Conservatives in District 30 came away victorious.

Though the sometimes contentious reorg season has drawn to a close, I think it’s safe to say that the war will rage on within the party. In fact, the chasm between establishment types and conservatives may be bigger than ever. Hard feelings seem to run deep for some— as manifested by the recent lockouts of observers at certain reorganization meetings. Make no mistake about it, unity isn’t happening any time soon.

So, what’s ahead for the party’s leaders— both new and old? To start, June Roundup is about a month away. That’s when the NDGOP State Committee will meet in Medora to conduct party business. The tension will probably be thick enough to cut with a knife.

Let’s also not forget that lawmakers will begin the process of redistricting. Not only will that ultimately affect a number of legislators, but district leadership too.

To top it all off, we’re less than a year away from endorsement conventions and the primary season. And it’s the latter that I believe will manifest just how divisive these reorganization battles have been in some legislative districts across the state.

To that point, two state representatives — neither of which is up for reelection until 2024 — have indicated they’re less than enthused to work with new party leadership in their districts. That’s Randy Schobinger (R – District 40) and Dwight Kiefert (R – District 24). In the case of Schobinger, he’s outright told the media he won’t work with new District Chair, Jay Lundeen. And Kiefert has already said he’ll go to the primary next time around.

It’s a very real possibility that Schobinger and Kiefert are just the beginning. I’d expect that we’ll see some of their colleagues taking similar positions in upcoming election cycles. What that entails is two possibilities:

  1. Incumbents may seek the district endorsement, but go on to the primary if they don’t get it. This has happened a number of times in the past. It’s nothing new. But it may become more frequent.
  2. Incumbents may just skip their districts’ endorsing conventions and go straight to the primary. It’s a bit more work — because they have to gather the required signatures for ballot access — but if it means not having to deal with district leadership they don’t align with, some candidates are likely to do it.

If these scenarios play out, we’ll see an increase in contested primary races. And make no mistake about it, races like these can not only get spendy, but they often become divisive too. We saw that last year when Governor Doug Burgum decided to meddle in district races with his personal fortune and political action committee (PAC).

To sum it all up— Don’t expect a truce any time soon. Reorganization meetings were likely just the beginning of many more battles to come.

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Sources:

  1. State Committee – North Dakota Republican Party (ndgop.org)
  2. House passes amended redistricting bill | Grand Forks Herald
  3. Burgum Continues Quest Against Conservative Candidates – The Minuteman Blog
  4. District 8 House Race- Is Burgum Using Former Staffers to Defeat an Enemy? – The Minuteman Blog
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About T. Arthur Mason 859 Articles
T. Arthur Mason is a native North Dakotan who has spent nearly all of his life in the Peace Garden State. As the third of four children in Western North Dakota, Mason grew to appreciate family and the outdoors. Some of his fondest memories are annual deer hunts with family and friends. In his early teenage years, faith became a central part of T. Arthur Mason's life. He and the majority of his family attend church together on a weekly basis and find this a fulfilling aspect of their lives. Through the influence of his father, T. Arthur Mason became intrigued with politics. As a boy, he attended political events with his father and enjoyed the friendships that resulted as a byproduct of those political associations. As Mason grew older, he became convinced that the quote often attributed to Thomas Jefferson was true, "That government is best which governs least." Today, T. Arthur Mason enjoys time with his wife and children, an occasional hunt, and an increasingly active life on the political scene. This blog is the fulfillment of a dream to design a web site in the realm of politics and to advocate for the principles of Liberty and constitutionally limited government. On behalf of all those that contribute to The Minuteman, we hope you enjoy your time on the site and will share the message with others.