Infighting likely to erupt at North Dakota GOP convention – InForum

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BISMARCK — Republicans in North Dakota will hold their state convention in Bismarck this weekend, but ideological divisions and wrangling over rules and procedure look likely to define the event intended to unite like-minded supporters .

Party delegates, expected to number around 2,000, will vote on Saturday, April 2 to endorse candidates in eight statewide races, but all eyes are on the U.S. Senate contest between incumbent John Hoeven and State Representative Rick Becker.

The race between Hoeven and Becker reflects the increasingly apparent split within the party.

Hoeven, a former governor, is often seen as a moderate Republican among his colleagues in Washington. Becker is the founder of the Bastiat Caucus, an unofficial, libertarian-leaning faction of GOP state lawmakers that often clashes with other party members.

But before either candidate takes the stage to make their case, followers of Becker’s conservatism are likely to challenge the rules that govern the party’s convention and operations, setting up a procedural showdown that could turn into screams.

District 38 GOP Chairman Jared Hendrix, a Becker supporter, told Forum News Service that his group intends to present a detailed proposal to overhaul the party’s established rules.

Party chairman Perrie Schafer said time was up to suggest rule changes and delegates would be deemed “irrelevant” if they tried to change the rules on the congress floor.

Hendrix said many Republicans, including those who have recently become politically active, want a more inclusive party with rules generated by masses of delegates rather than a few powerful gatekeepers.

One of the proposed rule changes would give delegates to a state convention the power to directly nominate candidates for the general election, eliminating the need for a statewide GOP primary election. Hendrix said the North Dakota state government had improperly interfered in what should be a party matter by administering the partisan primaries.

Currently, statewide candidates can run in the June primary without party endorsement if they deliver 300 signed petitions to the secretary of state’s office.

Hendrix said the proposed rule change would not necessarily do away with primary elections overnight, but it would create a legal basis for delegates to carry out the activities of their private organization.

Conservative activist Jared Hendrix speaks during a rally at the North Dakota Capitol on April 5, 2021.

Jeremy Turley / Forum Press Service

Secretary of State Al Jaeger said primary elections are consolidated in state law and that a political party changing its internal rules would not eliminate primaries – only a change in state law could. do it.

Schafer said proposed changes to the permanent rules must be notified 15 days in advance and approved by party rules and state committees. Since those criteria were not met, Hendrix’s “rogue” proposal is invalid and will not be considered on Saturday, Schafer said.

The GOP state committee, made up of party leaders and district chairmen, adopted the convention rules at a December meeting that Hendrix and seven other committee members walked out of in protest, noted. Schafer. That meeting would have been the perfect place to present proposals to change party rules, he said.

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North Dakota Republican Party Chairman Perrie Schafer.

Photo submitted

Asked if the convention would be unusually chaotic, Schafer said, “I hope people who come come as adults and act like they tell their kids to act.”

“They can yell and yell all they want, but we’re a party of rules,” Schafer said. “I hope people understand that rules are made to be obeyed. There is a process for changing the rules that was not followed (by Hendrix’s group).

Hendrix countered by saying, “there’s nothing disruptive about people standing up for their rights.”

Each time delegates vote to endorse Hoeven or Becker, the outcome could have major implications.

Becker told Forum News Service last week that he would end his campaign if he failed to win the party’s endorsement. A spokeswoman for Hoeven’s campaign declined to say whether Hoeven would make it to the primary elections in June if he failed to win delegates’ blessings. Hoeven recently won the endorsement of former President Donald Trump.

Republican candidates in the other seven races are not opposed to the convention and will likely receive approval. They include Kelly Armstrong for the United States House of Representatives, Drew Wrigley for the Attorney General, Brian Kroshus for the Commissioner of Taxation, Doug Goehring for the Commissioner of Agriculture, Michael Howe for the Secretary of State, and Julie Fedorchak and Sheri Haugen-Hoffart for the Public Service Commission.

The party holds all state and congressional offices in addition to 85% of seats in the state legislature.

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