Becker to seek Hoeven's Senate seat

BISMARCK (AP) — State Rep. Rick Becker, who founded an ultraconservative faction in the North Dakota Legislature and who narrowly lost the Republican endorsement for the U.S. Senate, announced Monday that he plans to run as an independent for the seat held by John Hoeven.

Becker, a Bismarck plastic surgeon and former gubernatorial candidate, had said he would not run if he lost the endorsement to Hoeven, who is seeking a third term.

“I had let it go and had no intention (of running) whatsoever,” Becker told The Associated Press. “The big spending in Washington just kept eating at me slowly and surely.”

Becker, 57, said he would start gathering the 1,000 signatures he needs by Sept. 6 to get on the ballot. If he gathers enough, in November he would face Hoeven and Democrat Katrina Christiansen, a political newcomer and University of Jamestown engineering professor.

Becker is the second person attempting to get on the November ballot as an independent. Cara Mund, a former Miss America, plans to run as one for North Dakota’s lone U.S. House seat. Mund and Becker, who had a statewide television show for a time, are both known entities in North Dakota and each likely will reach the 1,000-signature threshold.

Hoeven, 65, got a scare at the GOP convention in April when he narrowly won the GOP endorsement over Becker, who painted Hoeven as a big-spending, big-government politician who had lost touch with his conservative base.

Hoeven countered by touting his involvement in North Dakota’s economic development and highlighted his opposition to most of President Joe Biden’s policies. Hoeven got a video message of support from former President Donald Trump, who remains popular in the state.