Badlands...

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Dec 01, 2008 3:02 PM
Curly Haugland, North Dakota's Republican National Committeeman (and former North Dakota Republican Party chairman) recently made news when he stated that only members of the RNC should be elected RNC Chairman.

It is unclear whom Haugland is supporting for RNC Chair, but hailing from North Dakota, he might want to consider supporting SC Chairman Katon Dawson's "Project 3141" plan.  Project 3141 goes even further than Howard Dean's 50 state strategy; Dawson wants to fight for all 3,141 counties in the U.S.

Why might Haugland favor such a strategy?  While North Dakota has only one U.S. Congressman (Democrat Earl Pomeroy), like every other state, North Dakota has two U.S. Senators -- both of whom are Democrats.  In essence, this state with a population of less than 700 thousand sends as many liberals to the U.S. Senate as New York or California.  Yet when it comes to campaigning for these seats -- the Republican Party has consistently chosen to turn a blind eye.

North Dakota is one of the cheapest states in the nation (one dollar spent in North Dakota's cheap media market would equal ten dollars spent in most states.)  Yet, the RNC, NRSC, and NRCC have consistently refused to invest any resources in this state, instead "targeting" their resources to other areas (it is not surprising that Barack Obama was able to at least keep things interesting there for a while). 

A million dollars -- beer money in most states -- would saturate the media markets in this state, yet the last time a Congressional candidate received any support was in 2002, when Republican Rick Clayburg fell short with 48 percent of the vote.

Which brings me to a post I've been meaning to write for a while now.  Patrick Ruffini recently authored a very good post titled: "2010 Senate Recruitment Project."  While his premise -- that there is plenty of un-tapped GOP talent out there which we should encourage to get into the arena -- is spot-on (the RNC would argue that they have not spent money on these races simply because the candidates have been weak) -- having lived and worked in North Dakota, I think some of Patricks' recommendations regarding the state were off-base.

First, Patrick omitted the man who is arguably the most popular figure in the state, former Governor and current Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer.  Granted, Schafer has declined to run before, but so has Gov. John Hoeven, whom Patrick encourages to run.  Along with Hoeven, Patrick also gives a nod to State Tax Commissioner (and former Hoeven campaign manager) Cory Fong

Hoeven and Fong are both "big government" liberal Republicans, a point which ought to disqualify them from receiving our support prior to their receiving the nomination (in ND, this happens at a state convention, not a primary).  What is more, not only do they consistently refuse to campaign for conservative candidates for the House and Senate, they have actively worked to undermine their campaigns.  Electing Hoeven would certainly add a Republican to the ranks, but we would be getting a sort of wishy-washy Republican.  Still, depending on your philosophy regarding such things, this might be a big step-up from current senator Byron Dorgan.

Regardless, the point here is that by listening to the so-called experts -- and ignoring parts of the country the GOP has deemed to be either "safe" or un-winnable -- the GOP has found itself in quite a predicament.  We must begin re-building the GOP in all 50 states, and that will include fighting for the two senate seats in North Dakota.