Some thoughts now that we’re officially into North Dakota’s campaign season

A lot of political business got wrapped up in the last few days.

For one thing, the North Dakota GOP held their statewide convention in Grand Forks. The Democrats held theirs in the same location a couple of weeks prior. For another, the deadline for candidates filing for the June primary came and went on Monday, meaning the die has been cast for the first statewide vote of the 2018 election cycle.

I have some thoughts on what it all means.

In a column written from the NDGOP convention last weekend, I opined that Tom Campbell’s decision to ignore the vote of delegates there and run to the June primary was a gift to Democrats. I got a lot of feedback on that, most of it invoking Campbell’s own defense of the move which was to compare his choice to those of Kevin Cramer and Doug Burgum, each of whom also made the June primary the part of a successful electoral strategy.

But I’m not sure the comparison is apt.

For one thing, both Cramer and Burgum made it clear from the beginning of their campaigns that they would be going to the June primary. Cramer, for his part, didn’t even participate in the 2012 convention as a candidate.

Campbell has been less decisive. In fact, indecisiveness seems to have permeated his political career, including this cycle in which he’s already campaigned for both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House.

Speaking of indecisiveness, North Dakota Democrats have again struggled to recruit candidates this cycle. They’ve had some success on the statewide ballot.

Incumbent Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is joined by House candidate Mac Schneider and Secretary of State candidate Josh Boschee, both strong contenders.

Beyond that, things get depressing. Party chairwoman Kylie Oversen is running for tax commissioner, and even Democrats are treating the news with a roll of the eyes.

Democrats David Thompson, Jim Dotzenrod, Jeannie Brandt and Casey Buchmann are running for attorney general, agriculture commissioner, and two of the Public Service Commission offices, respectively. All, with the exception of Buchmann, were last minute announcements at the Democratic convention.

At the legislative level, Democrats are leaving 13 of the 72 races on the ballot this cycle completely empty — 10 in the state House and three in the state Senate.

Republicans, by comparison, only failed to find candidates in District 9, one of the most reliably liberal districts in the state.

Add in the fact that Republicans more than doubled Democrats in terms of seated delegates at their state convention, and what we can see is the recipe for yet another lackluster election cycle for our liberal friends.

Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, a North Dakota political blog, is a Forum Communications commentator. Follow him on Twitter at @RobPort

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