I know, I know. You’ve lost interest in North Dakota, arguable the reddest red state in our dis-union. I’m not saying its going to flip blue, but this year it is a laboratory due to recreational cannabis on the ballot, and the appearance of independent candidates in both the House and Senate races. At the least, it will be interesting to see how these factors impact the overall result and where there are lessons that could be applied to future races.
North Dakota Senate:
North Dakota Rep. Rick Becker is a liberarian Republicon firebrand, and he thinks that rich old incumbant Senator John Hoeven is just too RINO for North Dakota. Becker lost the nomination to Hoven and won’t let it go. Hoven must be scared, because he’s running an incredible number of ads focused on what a great guy he (Hoven) thinks he is. I mean, for a guy who should have a lock on this race, his TV ads are absolutely everywhere. Becker has also raised enough money to air attack ads against Hoven that North Dakotans are going to see, and they are impolite and brutal by local standards.
Meanwhile, as the Republicon are brutalizing each other, ND Democrats’ great white hope, Katrina Christiansen, is completely absent from the airwaves and everywhere else. Its as though she ‘s invisible. In true North Dakota Dem-NPL fashion, she doesn’t seem to have two buffalo nickels to rub together. As with any Post-Heitcamp Dem-NPL Senate candidate, its unlikely she will garner more than 40% of the vote. It seems there’s no outside interest or money to help her. There’s also no recent published polling on this race that I can find, but perhaps this is one of those races where, 40% could get her close if Becker is a spoiler. Maybe flying beneath the Republicon shit storm is a good thing; she wont get any on her.
North Dakota Congressional Race (yep, just one):
Yeah, about that. The Democratic NPL party didn’t even field a candidate. But the good news is there’s an interesting Independent candidate in the race. Former Miss America from North Dakota, Cara Mund with Harvard Law School creds has Kelly Armstrong freaking out as a September poll showed her within 4 points of Armstrong.* In a race that should just be a complete lock, he’s scared enough to be running constant ads showing himself fixing a tractor while his wife gushes about what a great guy he is. Mund is on the airwaves a little; most people who watch local TV news will see her. In a super-Red state, she’s not a ‘democrat party’ person, and she is the pro-choice candidate in this race, so….
So, it will be fascinating for those who watch ND and are looking for a way out of the deep red wilderness to see what the impact of the Intra-Republican fighting will be.
So what does any of this portend?
And yet, there are powerful factors in play that maybe, perhaps, just might surprise:
- ND’s only abortion clinic was forced out of the state, and that pissed off a lot of people who thought that would just never, ever happen in North Dakota.
- Legal abortion is hanging by a thread in appeals court, and that has mobilized activists in North Dakota.
- Cannabis is on the ballot, and there has been a lot of coverage and attention to this (the Fargo police chief is against it, and nobody like him).
- A big Republican Senate fight is presently at peak shit-flinging.
-ND voters don’t register — they just show up with a drivers license and can vote. So GOTV can continue right up to election day, particularly among young people.
- Miss America (former) from North Dakota is certainly not the worst candidate in the House race, is pro-abortion rights, very congenial, high achieving, and she’s shed the “democrat party” brand that is well, toxic in North Dakota A lot of people in the state took pride that she won the Miss America contest, so she has some name recognition. It will be interesting to see how this strategy plays out.
Watch these races. North Dakota is not the usual slam dunk for the GOP in 2022.
* Ok, ok. The September poll that had Mund within 4 pts was released by the ND Dems. Armstrong’s own poll had him up by 22 pts just a week earlier. But if he really believed that he was 22 points ahead, he wouldn’t be spending what he’s being forced to spend on TV this year.