It has been a roller coaster for Republicans when it comes to the U.S. Senate race in North Dakota. The latest is planted allegations on State Senator Tom Campbell making its way around Washington political circles. Today’s developments on the East Coast follow an eventful week within our own borders regarding Gary Emineth’s candidacy and Kevin Cramer’s name being thrust back into the mix.
Today, “Republican insiders” dumped opposition research of State Senator Tom Campbell into the conservative publication called the Washington Examiner. The report was also picked up by Roll Call. The release was intentionally placed by Republicans who wanted to remain anonymous. Political operatives forwarded the Examiner research that claimed Campbell’s bank foreclosed on farmers and that Campbell himself was sued for fraud over the life insurance policy he obtained on his mother. There were also other claims.
This research was dumped nationally in an attempt to build up the last ditch effort to get Congressman Kevin Cramer to reconsider his decision last month to forgo a Senate run. Is Cramer really reconsidering and did his campaign play any role in this story? Recall, Cramer didn’t want to endorse Campbell last month after he said he wouldn’t run against Heitkamp. Or, does the NRSC dislike Campbell so much that they’d publicly release these allegations on him to try and force Cramer into the race?
It seems interesting that the NRSC is now allegedly chasing Cramer. Last year, they wanted to go a different direction because of his “cringe-worthy” comments they knew would haunt his campaign in a challenging race. Whether it was defending Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s comments on Nazis, calling a woman commentator a “snob,” and defending President Trump’s response to Charlottesville, the NRSC reportedly had enough. Those comments haven’t changed, nor have they been erased from people’s memory.
I think it is worthy to note it appears to be national Republicans trying to convince Cramer to change his mind. In the same Washington Examiner post, NDGOP Chair Kelly Armstrong states they’re content with the candidates they currently have. Perhaps it is a response to how Cramer has walked all over the state party in the past and even earlier this year. In 2012, he skipped the NDGOP convention and took it straight to the Primary election. Then, after months of toying will he or won’t he with a U.S. Senate race, he decided he wouldn’t run for the U.S. Senate last month. Now, a month later this? I’d brush it off just as Armstrong appears to have done.
As I said earlier, a Senate race for Cramer wouldn’t have made sense. It would make even less sense now and appear as waffling. His fundraising has been lagging and Mike Jacobs pointed out Cramer declared himself a man of the House. With the numerous retirements in the House, Cramer would also likely move up the leadership ladder if he wins reelection. Just last month Cramer said, “We’ve decided that the best thing for our family and for me and I think, frankly, for North Dakota is for me to seek re-election to the House of Representatives.” The decision came two days after it was reported Cramer has paid his family $150,000 and reimbursed himself approximately $200,000 from his campaign.
In August of last year, the NRSC sent out mailers attacking Heidi Heitkamp. It appeared they wanted to hit early because they didn’t have a strong contender. Recently, they put out a misleading ad on Heitkamp’s voting record. The ad was another attempt by the NRSC to label Heitkamp as an “East-Coast Liberal.” The fact of the matter is, her voting record shows she’s pretty moderate and votes with President Trump about 50% of the time. Now, it appears they’re desperately trying to get a different candidate by backtracking on their legitimate past concerns.