The NDGOP “Has A Real Image Problem Right Now”


At the Great Plains Examiner, Matt Bunk has an excellent article about the recent in-fighting among North Dakota Republicans.

An excerpt:

Gary Emineth, a former state GOP chairman who campaigned for Santorum, said many of the people at the convention thought the caucus results bound the delegates to vote for Santorum – little did they know that the party changed the rules last year.

“It was a total railroad job because they wouldn’t allow the election process to occur,” Emineth said. “The party looked so bad by the time it was done. It disenfranchised a lot of people. A lot of Santorum people and Paul people were very upset.

“The party has a real image problem right now.”

In North Dakota, party leaders have a lot of power over the political process because presidential candidates compete in a caucus instead of a primary election and because the nomination process for state elected officials typically replaces primary battles between same-party candidates.

But that’s not the case with all races this year. Two Republicans – Sand and U.S. House candidate Kevin Cramer – went rogue and skipped the convention altogether based on the idea that they would have a better chance of winning a popular vote than the narrower selection process controlled by party insiders.

Paul Henderson, District 10 Republican chairman, said the tactics used by party leaders to manipulate the process of selecting national delegates “vindicated” the decisions by Sand and Cramer to bypass the convention. He said party leaders proved that they will do everything they can to maintain the status quo.

“They used every tool available to them to stifle the very thing they proclaim they want,” Henderson said. “They want a big tent, and that means you are going to have ideals coming from both sides of the spectrum. And I don’t think they get it.”

The problem the NDGOP has is that while they want a “big tent,” they don’t necessarily want everyone in that tent to have a say in how the party is run.

In the article former Governor Ed Schafer is quoted as saying the NDGOP doesn’t necessarily need a platform (it’s worth noting that, technically, the party didn’t pass one during the convention). I have a lot of respect for Schafer, but that is patently ridiculous.

The entire point of a political party is to advance a platform. A political party is nothing more than a group of people who come together to advance a set of agreed upon goals and ideas. The goals and ideas are defined by the platform. The party then works together to elect candidates who agree to advance the platform.

Without a platform, we may as well be running a beauty contest.

For anyone to suggest that the NDGOP – a party that has gone far adrift from the ideals that are supposed to define Republicanism, a party where the candidates have become notorious for campaigning one way and governing another – doesn’t need a platform is patently ridiculous.

The party needs unity. You find unity by having a well-defined platform and sticking to it. You foment disunity by letting candidates do whatever they want as long as they win elections with an “R” behind their names.

I’m beginning to think that the only solution for this problem is to elect some Democrats. I think the NDGOP would govern better with a smaller, but more conservative, majority in the state.

Rob Port

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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