Commentary: Campbell's decision to campaign to primary is a gift to Democrats

MINOT, N.D.-Mac Schneider should send Tom Campbell a fruit basket or a nice flower arrangement or something.Campbell lost the endorsement for the U.S. House at the NDGOP convention by a wide margin. Despite the race being hotly contested by no le...
columnist Rob Port
columnist Rob Port

MINOT, N.D.-Mac Schneider should send Tom Campbell a fruit basket or a nice flower arrangement or something.

Campbell lost the endorsement for the U.S. House at the NDGOP convention by a wide margin. Despite the race being hotly contested by no less than a half dozen candidates, state Senator Kelly Armstrong emerged victorious with 847 vote.

In second place was Campbell with 480 votes, just a bit more than half Armstrong's total.

Nonetheless, just minutes after Armstrong graciously accepted the decision of voters - one he had agreed to abide by even if he'd lost the vote - Campbell was announcing from his convention booth that he'd continue on to the primary.

Schneider no doubt smiled when he heard the news. Both Campbell and Armstrong have plenty of campaign cash, and the race will likely turn to mudslinging very quickly. Schneider will be able to watch from the sidelines, larding his own campaign coffers for the general election and chiming in to the intra-Republican food fight when he sees an opportunity.

It's a bewildering choice for Campbell. In announcing his primary run he invoked both Rep. Kevin Cramer and Gov. Doug Burgum, each of whom successfully eschewed the vote of convention delegates to find victory on the June ballot.

Yet Campbell lacks the charisma of the former, and probably doesn't have pockets nearly so deep as the latter.

He does have a whiff of desperation about him that neither man was plagued by.

Let's remember that Campbell wanted to run for governor in 2016, but stepped aside for Burgum. He wanted to be Lt. Governor, but was overlooked. He initially campaigned this cycle for the U.S. Senate but stepped aside when Cramer entered the race.

Now he's desperately clinging to a primary bid for the House after being soundly thumped at the convention by Armstrong.

To what end?

Is Campbell really trying to do what's best for his state and his political party? Or has this campaign, funded for the most part by his own cash according to the most recent campaign disclosures we have available, become an exercise in vanity?

Campbell has never struck me as a public servant. I've always perceived him as an office seeker. A man for which politics is a social club as opposed to something more aspirational.

It has seemed to this observer as though his quest for Congress was more a very expensive application to perhaps the most exclusive club in the nation.

Campbell, at this point, just seems to be doing what's best for Campbell.