BISMARCK - Gary Emineth, former chairman of the North Dakota Republican Party and a Bismarck businessman, teased his interest in North Dakota's U.S. Senate race on Monday, Jan. 29, noting in an interview that he's "over 90 percent" sure he'll run.
Emineth said his interest in the race was kindled in the last few weeks when Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., decided to run for re-election, forgoing a run for the Senate he had publicly weighed for months. That coincided, Emineth said, with his prior decision to step down as vice president of sales with Green Chile Foods-a burrito company he had previously led-to spend less time traveling.
"It's over 90 percent, from my end," Emineth said of the odds that he'll enter the race, adding that an announcement could come as soon as next week. "I always say that my wife is 110 (percent), so that helps."
Emineth's interview was preceded by a widely distributed email announcing his interest. He has "made many phone calls testing the waters" to research the viability of his run, he wrote.
"I have been encouraged by the response. People see me as someone who brings energy, enthusiasm, and passion to the race. Many would welcome (the) idea of competition within the party," Emineth wrote in the email.
In both that announcement and his later interview, the businessman contrasted himself with incumbent Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., striking a conservative pose on issues ranging from immigration to health care to the GOP-backed tax package. He praised President Donald Trump's regulatory cuts and the recent GOP tax cut, and questioned Heitkamp's record as a bipartisan senator.
Asked about state Sen. Tom Campbell, R-Grafton, and a Republican rival, Emineth said he feels "that I'm a stronger candidate."
"I think I have a history of being conservative," Emineth said of his run, "advocating for limited government, states' rights, (and against) government overreach."