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Bismarck lawmaker who led ultraconservative faction will not seek reelection

Rep. Rick Becker told viewers of his BEK News television show on Wednesday, Jan. 19, he has decided to retire from the House of Representatives after nearly a decade in the lower chamber.

Rick Becker
State Rep. Rick Becker, a Republican from Bismarck, speaks at the 2016 NDGOP state convention in Fargo.
Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
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BISMARCK — North Dakota Rep. Rick Becker, a Bismarck Republican who spearheaded an ultraconservative movement in the state Legislature, has announced he will not seek reelection this year.

Becker told viewers of his BEK News television show on Wednesday, Jan. 19, he has decided to retire from the House of Representatives after nearly a decade in the lower chamber.

The 57-year-old said he realized before the 2021 legislative session he can't accomplish everything he wants, and the work will never end.

However, Becker told Forum News Service he takes pride in having sponsored major bills to expand concealed carry of guns , reform civil asset forfeiture practices and add protections for police informants.

After entering the Legislature in 2013, Becker founded the Bastiat Caucus, an unofficial libertarian-leaning faction of the Republican party that does not disclose its membership. Becker said Wednesday the group included about 30 legislators in 2019.

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Becker said he thinks the Bastiat Caucus will "carry on just fine" in his absence, though he noted the members may change the name or form of the group.

The plastic surgeon ran for governor in 2016 against Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and eventual winner Doug Burgum. Becker dropped out of the race after the Republican State Convention, where he placed second behind Stenehjem in a vote for the party's endorsement.

Becker said it's frustrating to continue holding other lawmakers accountable on public spending issues when they resent his input.

In an earlier segment of his TV program, Becker acknowledged there's "a civil war" being fought within the state GOP between establishment Republicans and ultraconservatives. He said the old guard's rejection of new policies and protection of the status quo will either cause the party to move toward more conservative ideals or split in two.

Becker's name won't appear on the ballot this year, but he did not rule out a run for political office in the future.

If Becker had run for reelection, he would have faced several competitors to keep his seat. Fellow incumbent Rep. Jason Dockter and two other Republicans have announced their candidacies for District 7's two House seats.

Jeremy Turley is a Bismarck-based reporter for Forum News Service, which provides news coverage to publications owned by Forum Communications Company.
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