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Senate candidate Becker says he'll honor results of North Dakota GOP convention

The North Dakota GOP will put on its state convention in Bismarck on April 1 and 2, and party delegates will vote to endorse either U.S. Sen. John Hoeven or state Rep. Rick Becker in the Senate race.

Rick Becker
Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck.
Mike McCleary / Bismarck Tribune
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BISMARCK — U.S. Senate candidate Rick Becker told Forum News Service on Monday, March 21, he will end his campaign to unseat incumbent Sen. John Hoeven if he fails to secure the Republican endorsement at the party convention next week. But the Bismarck-based state representative said he thinks he's got a "50-50" shot at winning over party delegates.

The North Dakota GOP will put on its state convention in Bismarck on April 1 and 2, and party delegates will vote to endorse either Hoeven, the former governor who has held the office for the last 11 years, or Becker, the founder of the ultraconservative Bastiat Caucus in the state Legislature.

Becker said the party's process for endorsing candidates is proper, and he plans to honor their decision. The plastic surgeon dropped out of the gubernatorial race in 2016 after placing second on delegates' ballots in a three-way contest at the party convention.

Hoeven campaign chairwoman Jessica Lee said the senator will seek the GOP endorsement, but she declined to comment on whether Hoeven would go on to the June primary election if he fails to secure the party's blessing.

john_hoeven.jpeg
U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., speaks at a press conference in Bismarck in March 2020. Jeremy Turley / Forum News Service

Becker said attending the convention and refusing to honor the endorsement would be disrespectful to the delegates.

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The two candidates will each get 30 minutes on stage to make their pitch to delegates, Becker said. State GOP Chairman Perrie Schafer estimated 1,500-1,800 delegates will be at the convention.

Many political observers view the race between Hoeven and Becker as a barometer for tastes and attitudes among North Dakota Republicans, with Hoeven representing the party's mainstream and Becker representing a more libertarian-leaning faction.

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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