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ND GOP draws battle lines in Bismarck

April 2, 2012

BISMARCK, N.D. - With 16 candidates seeking nine offices, competition for party endorsement was stiff over the weekend at the North Dakota Republican Convention in Bismarck.

There were 1,940 delegates from the state’s 47 congressional districts registered for the convention, which is a 26 percent increase since 2010. However, as nominations began on Saturday, 1,666 delegates were present to vote by 1:47 p.m., but that number edged up to 1,717 by 1:33 p.m. Sunday according to the credentials committee.

For the State’s top office, incumbent Governor Jack Dalrymple sought his party’s nomination over Republican rival Paul Sorum.

Dalrymple received 1,127 votes to Sorum’s 478, but the Governor lost in Districts 10, 11, 21, 41 and 47.

Dalrymple will face Democratic candidate Ryan Taylor in November.
“I will run a vigorous and honorable campaign that will make all of you proud of your party and proud of candidate,” Dalrymple said.

“Folks, I believe we have the winning formula in every way.”
Dalrymple’s running mate, Drew Wrigley, received a unanimous endorsement and will be facing off against former Valley City State University president Ellen Chaffee for Lieutenant Governor.

In what could be the hottest race in the state, Republican Rick Berg was endorsed to face Democratic candidate and former State Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp.

During a speech to nominate Berg, former Governor Ed Schaffer said “Heidi Heitkamp reads law books and tax journals; Rick Berg raises cattle. Who would you rather have” working on the new farm bill?
Five Republican candidates, Brian Kalk, Bette Grande, Shane Goettle, Kim Koppelman and DuWayne Hendrickson, vied for the endorsement to run against Democrat Pam Gulleson for the state’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

When the dust settled on Sunday, Brian Kalk came out on top after 3 rounds of voting.

Other endorsed candidates include Randy Christmann, who will face Democrat Brad Crabtree for Public Service Commission,
Republican Kirsten Baesler will take on Democrat Max laird for Department of Public Instruction Superintendent and Repbulican incumbants State Auditor Robert Peterson, Treasurer Kelly Schmidt and Insurance Commission Adam Hamm will face Democratic challengers Scot Kelsh, Ross Mushik and Tom Potter, respectively.

Contentious Convention
A 72 percent increase in state Republican delegates over the last four years represents an addition of many to the party - a lot of them decades younger that the party heads - and they have their own ideas of how the party should operate.

A disagreement erupted early on Saturday during the election of national delegates and alternatives.

The dispute arose over how some delegates, who some younger state delegates claimed were favored by party elites, were segregated on the ballot. Some of the younger Republicans who opposed the ballot were supporters of Republican presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Ron Paul, and argued that a majority of the “favored” delegation candidates supported Mitt Romney’s bid for the nation’s top office. against President Barack Obama in this year’s presidential election. One of the state delegates even compared the procedures of the party to soviet Russia.

“Our delegates at the state level ought to have the opportunity to elect delegates to the national convention rather than a pre-selected slate that was decided upon by party elites,” District 47 delegate chairperson Karen Erickstad said from the floor to Executive Committee Chairman Stan Stein.

“I truly mean to be respectful, but I just want someone to help me understand why I’m here as a delegate, because I was under the misconception that by coming here I would be allowed to look at a ballot that’s arranged by no preference as to who has the most experience - or clout - in the Republican party.”

Those who applied for consideration on the national delegation were judged 25 percent on monetary backing and 40 percent on past work for the party.

Ryan VanderWel, state delegate from District 1 also argued with Stein, saying afterword, “The establishment was in rare form” that morning, referring to them as “the old white man’s club.”

“Is that fair to my generation that doesn’t have years and years in the Republican party. I don’t have lots of funds to give. Is that fair to me and my generation?” VanderWel said.

The debate, which delayed proceedings and threw the day far off schedule, came just hours after U.S. Senate hopeful Duane Sand and former Presidential candidate Herman Cain, a personal friend of Sand, were asked to leave an informal reception at the Ramkota Hotel on Friday night. Sand had skipped the convention, saying his fellow Republican rival Rick Berg was already favored by party heads, and opted instead to focus on the June 12 primary.

Interestingly enough, all room keycards at the Ramkota had Berg’s campaign logo printed on them.

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