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Port: In a flurry of self-contradictions, Rick Becker announces U.S. Senate race

This guy wants us to believe he can beat incumbent Senator John Hoeven.

Rick Becker campaign announcement
State Rep. Rick Becker is seen here in a campaign video announcing his bid for the U.S. Senate.
Screen capture from YouTube
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Minot, N.D. — Rick Becker is running for the U.S. Senate, but it would be a mistake to believe this sideshow carnival barker expects to win.

He's the latest in a long line of charlatans who prey on conservatives by launching campaigns casting themselves as the red-meat, rock-ribbed, capital-T, capital-C, True Conservative.

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The intent is not really to get the most votes but to raise a bunch of money and get a lot of attention.

North Dakota voters have some experience with this.

Remember Duane Sand? He ran for the U.S. Senate in 2000 and 2012, and the U.S. House in 2004 and 2008, and was always touting himself as the most conservative candidate in the room.

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But if you looked carefully at his campaign finance disclosures, his burn rates were through the roof. His campaigns seemed less an exercise in attaining elected office than generating revenue for a direct mail company .

I would expect something similar from Becker.

Because there's no way he's beating incumbent Senator John Hoeven.

Hoeven first appeared on a ballot in 2000, when he was running for governor, and he garnered 55 percent of the vote. Since then he's appeared on the ballot in 2004 and 2008 (for governor), 2010 and 2016 (for the Senate) and never got below 70 percent of the vote.

In 2016, he received nearly 79 percent of the vote. He currently has over $3 million in his campaign re-election fund.

Yet Becker, never in short supply when it comes to self-regard, wants us to think he's in the Senate race to win it.

Yet even in his campaign announcement video - a laughter-worthy exercise in self-aggrandizement even in the genre of political messaging, with all the usual tropes like "candidate does a walk-and-talk with some random people" and "candidate-stares-pensively into the distance" - we see some wide cracks in his argument.

Becker touts his record as a principled and consistent conservative who has stood up to other, lesser Republicans. And yet, Becker also credits himself with an accomplished legislative track record, rattling off a list of issues he's had traction on.

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Every single one of those issues passed only because the rest of the Republican caucus in the Legislature, the very people Becker denigrates, also voted for the bill.

Becker says he's able to work well with others, yet he was all but chased out of his legislative seat when one of his own district NDGOP leaders announced a campaign for his seat .

Does he think voters won't notice these things? Does he think North Dakota voters care two figs about some ranking by an out-of-state group showing how much more conservative-than-thou he is? Does he think voters will forget the amount of time and effort he invested in trying to protect Luke Simons, a political ally who was expelled from the Legislature last year amid multiple accusations of sexual harassment?

Becker's video shows us that he thinks North Dakotans want another intransigent ideologue in Washington D.C. Another blowhard with a big ego who feels his duty is to entertain, first, and serve the public second.

I think he's wrong.

There's a reason why Hoeven, who governs conservatively with a style that is the opposite of Becker's, wins one landslide victory after another on the statewide ballot.

It's because the voters just don't want what Becker aims to sell them.

But then, I also don't think he actually expects to win. He does expect to harvest a bunch of money from the sort of Fox News-addled dupes who typically fall for this sort of schtick.

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Here's a discussion question to end the column: Why do you think Becker's campaign announcement was first released by a national right-leaning outlet, the Washington Examiner , and not an in-state publication with a larger readership among actual North Dakota voters?

Speaks volumes about Becker's priorities, doesn't it?

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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