North Dakota GOP can't find one decent candidate to run for Senate


Republicans have resorted to begging a congressman who already said he wouldn't run.

Last year, North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp looked like one of the most vulnerable Democrats on the map, even as she joined with her party to resist Trump. Republicans scoffed that she was a fool for not backing the Trump agenda, particularly the GOP tax scam, and said the North Dakota voters who elected Trump by 36 points would punish her for it.

Fast forward to today. Republicans are desperate to find someone, anyone, to take her on, and begging a congressman who already said he would not do it.

Rep. Kevin Cramer, who is best known for his obsession with privatizing Social Security, decided last month that he would run for another term in the House rather than try for the Senate.

But now, according to the Washington Examiner, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and party strategists are trying to persuade Cramer to change his mind. Said one insider: "Kevin Cramer might be the most heavily recruited candidate in the history of Republican politics."

Republicans might be right that Cramer is their only hope. Both of the current Republicans in the Senate primary are imploding in spectacular fashion.

Last week, CNN's Andrew Kaczynski unearthed a series of horrific social media posts by one of the candidates, former state party chair Gary Emineth, in which he advocated banning mosques, called President Obama a "POS," and compared food stamp recipients to animals. Emineth's response was almost comically inept, claiming he did not know what "POS" stood for, and then saying "So what?" and "Bring it on. I’m going to say what's on my mind."

Republicans were on the point of grudgingly getting behind the other candidate, former banker and state Sen. Tom Campbell, until their own opposition research revealed he had foreclosed on several family farms and was sued for fraud by a life insurance company after collecting on his deceased mother.

The saga of North Dakota Republicans is part of a general inability to recruit candidates nationwide. Indeed, a similar disaster is unfolding in Tennessee, where Republicans are begging retiring Sen. Bob Corker to un-retire after polls found their frontrunner losing to Democratic former Gov. Phil Bredesen.

After the stunning win of Doug Jones in Alabama, Democrats suddenly have a plausible path to winning a Senate majority, so it is crucial for the GOP to pick off at least a couple of the 10 incumbent Democratic senators on the ballot in states Trump won.

If what is unfolding in North Dakota is any guide, Republicans are growing less sure by the day that they can do it.