In a locally televised interview, Kevin Cramer admitted to what I speculated early on about his decision to enter the U.S. Senate race. It was billionaire, out-of-state, oil tycoon Harold Hamm that changed his mind. Hamm promised to be Cramer’s finance chairman if he took the political risk. Cramer had rejected other calls for him to jump in. He even publicly announced he wouldn’t run for the Senate because he was “a man of the House.” I think it is natural to wonder if there is more to this admission.
When Harold talked to my wife Chris, he said, ‘if Kevin does this, if you guys get into this, I [Harold Hamm] will be his national finance chairman.’ That was pretty compelling. – Kevin Cramer (WDAY TV May 8th, 2018)
It wasn’t North Dakotans that convinced Cramer to change his mind. It wasn’t even the President of the United States. By his own admission, it was an out-of-state, multi-billionaire oil tycoon in Harold Hamm that was his deciding factor.
As I wrote earlier this year, why was Hamm such a large influence on Cramer taking this risk? Is it simply the offer to help him raise much needed money for the campaign? Was there something more that was “pretty compelling”? We don’t have that answer, but we do have another North Dakota example to reflect upon.
Following the 2011 defeat of lowering the oil extraction tax, former ND Governor Ed Schafer joined the board of Hamm’s Continental Resources. The move happened months after the campaign Schafer spearheaded was rejected. Schafer took the political risk. Personally, he made advancements. “As part of his director’s compensation, Schafer is receiving 11,945 shares of Continental stock over four years. The shares would be worth more than $770,000 based on Monday’s stock price of about $65 a share.” According to the Bismarck Tribune at the time. Keep in mind that price was based in 2011.
In the same WDAY TV interview, Cramer said he wanted to help the state. With his public admission that it wasn’t even North Dakota residents who convinced him to run for the Senate, but Harold Hamm that changed his mind, one can wonder if he is possibly looking to help himself in the long-run.