I’m back from vacation and getting caught up on the happenings of the past week. As you know, the news doesn’t stop. I’ll try and take the developments of last week one at a time. Let’s start with Tom Campbell’s announcement that he’s running for the U.S. Senate, shall we?
During the legislative session, I wrote about Tom Campbell’s proposal to drug test people receiving government assistance. In that post, I said he was using that bill as a way to get recognition. Campbell has long had ambitions of running for higher office including his flirtation with running for Governor in 2016. He actually held a press conference to announce he wouldn’t run for Governor. That’s pretty unusual and shows his level of self-importance. Meanwhile, people responded with “who the hell is Tom Campbell?”
That low name ID for Campbell holds true now in 2017 and is something he will attempt to pay to overcome. It is likely why he declared his candidacy early and has already spent $139,488 on television ads. That figure is likely larger now and will continue to grow. One advertising expert suggested he’d probably need to spend a half a million dollars to get some form of name ID in the state. I’ll be curious to see whether these ads were self-funded or if Campbell has raised money. One of the reasons people looked to him as a potential candidate is his ability to pay his own way. He has until next Tuesday to file his campaign paperwork.
Those ads certainly paint the portrait Campbell wants North Dakotans to see. A self-described, “Conservative Farmer” though Tri-Campbell Farms has received $1,853,173 in federal farm subsidies from 1995-2014. “Grow something besides government” though Campbell voted with the Legislature to grow North Dakota’s government since being first elected in 2012, something conservative commentators have lambasted legislators for. Wants to partner and push President Trump’s agenda though his budget slashes the USDA by 21%.
Term limits? Campbell says he is in favor of them. It is the same play used by Doug Burgum in last year’s election. Burgum ran away from that campaign promise once he became elected. If this is something Campbell truly believes in, he should give us specifics. How many terms should a person be allowed to serve? If the answer is two, will Campbell forgo seeking reelection to the North Dakota Senate if he doesn’t get the NDGOP nomination for the U.S. Senate? If Campbell supports the idea, why didn’t he offer it for the North Dakota Legislature last session with a Governor who campaigned on that very idea? Campbell could have helped Burgum fulfill a campaign promise.
I’m not certain Campbell will be the NDGOP candidate for U.S. Senate. The race for the nomination will become more crowded in the coming weeks. For example, tomorrow Rep. Rick Becker is having a meeting with Congressman Kevin Cramer. Use your imagination to figure out what they’ll be talking about. Rick Berg has also come out of hiding and has made more public appearances. He’s floating his own name around.
In addition, I’m not sure Campbell has the support of the National Republican Senatorial Committee either. People familiar with the campaign have indicated the NRSC backed away from Campbell after visiting the Grafton area where he represents. The NRSC shifted to Campbell following Kevin Cramer’s repeated cringe worthy moments earlier this year. If that holds true, it makes a person curious what exactly changed their minds on Campbell.
We will watch this campaign as it develops. Currently, Campbell is the only announced candidate for the U.S. Senate from either party. Expect that to change very soon on the Republican side. The question then will be how far do these candidates take it? Do they stop at the convention or do they go the path of Cramer and Burgum to the primary.