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Port: Becker hits Hoeven over voting to confirm 2020 election results

It's worth remembering that all three members of North Dakota's federal delegation -- Sens. John Hoever and Kevin Cramer and Congressman Kelly Armstrong -- voted to certify the election.

Rick Becker
Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck.
Mike McCleary / Bismarck Tribune
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MINOT, N.D. — In a fundraising email, U.S. Senate hopeful Rick Becker hits incumbent Sen. John Hoeven for voting to certify the 2020 election.

Becker is currently a state representative from the Bismarck area, and according to NDGOP insiders has had some success getting delegate support for party's upcoming statewide endorsing convention.

His chances of winning the convention endorsement are good, though he remains a longshot, given Hoeven's long-standing popularity, to win on the June primary ballot where the party's nomination is settled.

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Most of Becker's success in generating support comes from spouting Trumpian talking points. He called for mass arrests in Washington, D.C., during a recent convention in District 2, in the Tioga area , and now a pitch for contributions sent out by his campaign hits Hoeven over voting to certify the 2020 election.

After a bulleted list of supposed problems with the 2020 election — the sort of stuff you might hear pillow impresario cum election integrity conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell rant about on any given day — Becker rips Hoeven for defying Trump and the Jan. 6, 2021, rioters who stormed the capitol with his vote to certify.

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Though the statement is carefully worded, leaving the candidate plenty of room for weaseling.

"In truth, we do not know the full extent of the problems in some states — especially critical swing states. While I believe that our elections in North Dakota are done fairly well, if there are significant problems elsewhere, then our precious 3 electoral votes could be rendered meaningless!" Becker writes in the email. "This is exactly why my opponent — Sen. John Hoeven — should NOT have voted to certify the 2020 election results. Had I been your Senator, I would have supported Sen. Ted Cruz’s effort to delay and investigate these claims further."

It's worth remembering that all three members of North Dakota's federal delegation — Sen. Kevin Cramer and Congressman Kelly Armstrong as well as Hoeven — voted to certify the election.

Hoeven explained his vote by arguing, correctly, that failing to certify would represent Congress usurping power from the states. "The people of North Dakota do not want Congress to determine their vote, and we should not set the precedent by doing it for other states," he said.

Armstrong made a similar argument: "The text of the Constitution is clear. States select electors. Congress does not," he said at the time .

Even Cramer, an ardent Trump supporter, and the first member of Congress to back the former president's campaign in 2016, explained that Congress, absent extraordinary evidence of fraud, had no business overriding the states . He said he could not "in good conscience cast a vote to disenfranchise millions of Americans" without "sufficient evidence or clear constitutional authority."

We now know that Cramer, specifically, was under heavy pressure from Trump world to vote against certification. He was invited by Lindell to a meeting about how to overturn the election results. He was also sent a memo from a Trump supporter arguing that the powers of the Defense Department and the National Security Agency should be used to find evidence of foreign interference with the election.

"None of this stuff was very impressive at the time," Cramer last month told our Patrick Springer of those efforts .

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If he'd been impressed with the information, he wouldn't have voted to certify.

Which brings us back to Becker. There is no reality-based argument for voting against certification of the 2020 election. But as a campaign tactic, invoking election conspiracy theories is a good way to raise money from Trump supporters, and perhaps open the door to an endorsement from the former president himself.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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