A little over 24-hours after meeting the filing deadline, Tom Campbell will make an announcement he will withdraw from the primary challenge to Kelly Armstrong. The reversal comes on the same day Speaker of the House Paul Ryan tells Congressional Republicans he won’t seek reelection. What can we glean from these developments?
First, strong pressure from North Dakota power players likely forced Campbell out because they’re concerned about Mac Schneider. Schneider has shown strong fundraising ability and has built a high-profile as a former legislative leader. Second is what merges these developments, the “blue wave” heading into the midterm is building and Republicans are beginning to panic.
What could you have done with $750,000? That is the question Campbell is now asking himself. It is the approximate amount of his own money he spent on his own campaign. It couldn’t buy him a spot on the ballot. Instead, he was sat down by a group of power players and pushed out. Who was likely involved? Pat Finken from Kevin Cramer’s campaign? House Majority Leader Al Carlson? NDGOP Chair Rick Berg? Governor Doug Burgum, who without irony pleaded for Campbell to not run in the primary two years after he did it himself? All are highly plausible, all have been mentioned by sources.
The underlying concern they share would have been money. How much money would Armstrong have raised from oil lobbyists to defeat Campbell’s self-funded campaign? Now that money can filter to Cramer’s campaign in the fall. Armstrong can save it for Schneider. Carlson can throw it at legislative races. This primary race would have been a vacuum on their general election funds. They had to stop it.
What did they have on Campbell? $750,000 couldn’t stop the possibility of whatever it was from going public. Recall, it was Republicans that planted dirt on Campbell in a national right-wing publication. Some have speculated ND Republicans were behind the opposition dump. Certainly, they didn’t dish out all of what they had in their first placement.
Campbell certainly didn’t come to this decision unprompted. He has had ambitions for higher office for years. He spent approximately a quarter of a million of his own dollars to find an office. No, it was because those who pull the power strings in the NDGOP know they have a fight on their hands with Mac Schneider and Heidi Heitkamp in a year where Democrats are winning in deep red districts. It is the same reason why Paul Ryan, the Speak of the House, is retiring rather than seeking reelection.
What would you have done with $750,000?