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Port: Is Rick Becker saying that Donald Trump is a liberal?

A ranking touted ad nauseum by U.S. Senate candidate Rick Becker asks you to simultaneously believe that Donald Trump is the leader of the modern conservative movement and that U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, who voted with Trump just about all of the time, is not conservative.

Photo: Rick Becker table stunt
State Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck, set up a table and asked citizens to challenge his argument against North Dakota mask mandate.
Jeremy Turley / Forum News Service, via Twitter
We are part of The Trust Project.

MINOT, N.D. — Something fishy is afoot in North Dakota's U.S. Senate race, and you voters ought to be aware of it.

State Rep. Rick Becker, who is pursuing a vigorous challenge in North Dakota's Republican U.S. Senate primary to incumbent John Hoeven, has been touting, ad nauseum, a strong rating his legislative record has received from a group called the American Conservative Union.

They're the ones behind the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, which at one time was an important gathering of conservative activists from around the country but, in recent years, has devolved into an exercise in Trumpian idolatry.

I mean, that golden Trump statue they had at the 2021 event might as well have been a golden calf .

Conservatism used to be organized around ideas. Now it's organized around the adulation of a man, which is pathetic, but let's get back to the topic at hand.

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Becker's campaign has been publishing this graphic comparing his ACU rating as a state lawmaker to Hoeven's ACU rating as a U.S. senator. Not surprisingly, since Becker's campaign really, really wants you to see this, the comparison doesn't look good for Hoeven.

Rick Becker campaign graphic
A graphic created by state Rep. Rick Becker's U.S. Senate campaign contrasting his rating from the American Conservative Union with that of his opponent, incumbent Senator John Hoeven.

But does this mean what Becker wants you to think it means?

We could quibble, and point out that the rating is based on two different things. Hoeven takes his votes in the U.S. Senate. Becker takes his in the North Dakota Legislature. They weren't voting on the same things, or in the same political environments, and so comparing the ratings seems a bit like asking whether Babe Ruth or Michael Jordan is the better ping pong player.

But let's set that aside for a moment and focus on a larger problem that makes me think there's some funny business going on with the ACU's ratings.

Someone, somewhere, is maybe cooking the books for Becker.

We know that the ACU is a very pro-Trump organization, what with CPAC attendees genuflecting in front of the golden statue and all.

We also know that Becker is working very hard to earn the support of the Trump faction of the Republican party. That's why he's been screeching about mass arrests in Washington and playing footsie with 2020 election conspiracy theories .

And yet Hoeven, whose rating with the ACU is abysmal, as Becker delights in telling voters, supported Trump more than 92% of the time while the former president was in office from 2017 to 2020, which puts him in the top 10 for U.S. senators with pro-Trump voting records.

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Hoeven Trump vote tracker
This graphic from FiveThirtyEight.com shows how often U.S. Senator John Hoeven voted with former President Donald Trump's positions.

That's per the information gathered by FiveThirtyEight.com which has also published a complete listing of the votes they scored to arrive at this rating .

How does that happen?

Again, the ACU is a very Trumpy organization. At the most recent CPAC event, held just last month, a straw poll of attendees showed that 85% supported Trump running for re-election, including 72% who strongly support it.

The same poll showed Trump dominating all other potential 2024 candidates.

MORE FROM ROB PORT
Somehow, Trump-aligned "conservatives" went full circle, from prudent skeptics of authoritarianism to its footsoldiers, Rob Port writes.

The former president got 59% of the vote, more than double Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis who came in second place at 28%.

Yet the ACU gives a senator who voted with Trump more than 92% of the time an abysmal vote rating?

The ACU wants you to simultaneously believe that Donald Trump is the leader of the modern conservative movement and a U.S. senator who voted with him just about all of the time is not conservative.

That doesn't add up.

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But maybe it's not supposed to add up. Grandstanding politicians like Becker don't want you to think things. They want you to feel things.

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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