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Port: Hoeven is learning that Trump loyalty gets you nothing

As a Trump critic, I look at Hoeven's pattern of support for the former president and I'm appalled, but from the perspective of a Trump fanatic? What's not to like? What else do Trump supporters want from a member of the United States Senate?

Bison White House visit Trump Hoeven Stick.jpg
President Donald Trump congratulations NDSU football quarterback Easton Stick and other members of the team during an event at the White House March 4, 2019. Sen. Kevin Cramer, left, and Sen. John Hoeven, right, also attended the event. Special to The Forum
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Minot, N.D. — Senator John Hoeven is facing a boisterous challenge for the North Dakota Republican Party's endorsement from state lawmaker Rep. Rick Becker, a Donald Trump loyalist.

Becker, who rants about ideological purity but has no discernible principles beyond an unquenchable thirst for the sort of celebrity he believes high-profile political office can deliver, is taking advantage of the chaos Trumpism has sowed among Republicans to breathe new life into a faltering political career.

Yet, looking at the facts, you have to wonder why his very Trumpy campaign would resonate.

What, specifically, are Hoeven's sins against Trumpism?

According to FiveThirtyEight.com , while Trump was in office, Hoeven voted in line with the former president's stated positions more than 92 percent of the time . As a comparison, Senator Kevin Cramer, a close Trump ally, was just slightly higher at 94.1 percent.

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Hoeven voted against the first impeachment of Trump over accusations from a whistleblower, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, that he'd used military aid to Ukraine as leverage to convince President Volodymyr Zelensky to help manufacture negative political headlines for Trump's political opponent Joe Biden.

(And, wow, does that look bad in retrospect given what's going on in Ukraine today.)

Hoeven also voted against the second impeachment of Trump , which had to do with the president inciting the January 6th riot in Washington D.C.

Hoeven voted to filibuster the creation of an independent commission to investigate the January 6 riot.

He attended the disgraceful "stop the steal" rally in Bismarck organized by Becker ally and NDGOP district chairman Jared Hendrix.

The most biting words he had to say about Trump and the whole Jan. 6 fiasco was that the president "should not have encouraged the protest."

As a Trump critic, I look at Hoeven's support pattern for the former president, and I'm appalled, but from the perspective of a Trump fanatic?

What's not to like? What else do Trump supporters want from a member of the United States Senate?

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These are the wages of loyalty to Trumpism, it seems, and it ought to be a lesson to other politicians inclined to court the support of Trump world.

For all the blather about ideological purity -- about what constitutes a capital-T, capital-C, True Conservative -- we get from Trump disciples like Becker, the truth is that purity earns you nothing in Trump world.

Hoeven, his concessions to Trumpism aside, has been a stalwart and principled advocate for the State of North Dakota. Still, in this ugly moment in American history, I'm afraid what many voters want, and in particular, what most MAGA voters want, is entertainment.

Becker, a prolific Facebook meme lord with a local TV show to promote, is squarely in the entertainment wing of the Republican party, which values trending on Twitter more than, say, winning bipartisan support for an essential piece of policy.

Hoeven, whatever else he is, is not that.

Hoeven goes to Washington to govern, not entertain, and that's not what Trump world wants.

Let's hope there's a larger majority of voters in North Dakota who want something more meaningful.

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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