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Port: NDGOP worried about Bastiat Caucus insurgency ahead of 2022 cycle

At the ballot box, this confederacy of dunces is a non-factor. In the more picayune environs of intraparty politics, however, they're a headache, and that has some NDGOP leaders worried. To the point where there's serious talk of skipping the state party's endorsing convention next year.

Fargo entrepreneur Doug Burgum asks for the NDGOP endorsement for governor during the during the NDGOP convention Saturday, April 2, 2016 in Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service
Fargo entrepreneur Doug Burgum asks for the NDGOP endorsement for governor during the during the NDGOP convention Saturday, April 2, 2016 in Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service
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MINOT, N.D. — Those of you who have been following this column are aware of a pronounced fracturing of the North Dakota Republican Party. The break-away faction includes the Bastiat Caucus in the Legislature, led by Rep. Rick Becker of Bismarck, who can be seen ranting, regularly, about the "anti-intellectual" and "establishment" Republicans on his local television show.

This is ironic given that the current chair of the Bastiat Caucus, which Becker founded, is Sen. Oley "snail trails" Larsen of Minot, who, based on his meandering speeches on the floor of the state Senate, isn't anyone's idea of an intellectual giant.

History is littered with seemingly intelligent political figures who lose the thread by spending too much time believing their own bull pucky. Becker seems intent on joining them.

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But I digress.

The Bastiats and their fellow travelers are not representative of most North Dakotans, or even most Republicans, in our state.

Most in our state's electorate are moderate Republicans, a fact attested to by the consistent political success of the NDGOP under moderate political figures like Ed Schafer , John Hoeven , Jack Dalrymple and Doug Burgum .

The Bastiats, et al, claim to want more ideological purity, though it's hard to discern that in their own ranks, populated as they are by a mangy coalition of milquetoast libertarians, Bible-thumping zealots, and Qanon conspiracy theorists still duped into thinking the 2020 election was stolen.

What binds these folks together isn't a common ideology, but resentment of the "establishment" (and, in Becker's case, a ponderous but so far largely unrequited political ego).

At the ballot box, this confederacy of dunces is a non-factor. In the more picayune environs of intraparty politics, however, they're a headache, and that has some NDGOP leaders worried.

To the point where there's serious talk of skipping the state party's endorsing convention next year.

This isn't to say that's a thing that will happen, only that serious people with sway in the party are talking about it.

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Why would they do such a thing?

Because while the Bastiats, etc., etc., aren't likely to move the needle at the ballot box, they are capable of putting enough butts in seats at a convention to embarrass the party. They control the local leadership in about 16 legislative districts.

Those districts could seat a lot of delegates willing to boo, say, Rep. Kelly Armstrong and Sen. Hoeven for voting to certify the 2020 election results.

They could boo Gov. Burgum, who isn't on the ballot this cycle but would be obliged to speak at the convention as past governors have done.

They could boo Sen. Kevin Cramer , also on the ballot but similarly obliged to speak, for voting for the recent infrastructure bill.

Some NDGOP leaders are worried about these mortifying possibilities, and they should be.

To comment on this article, visit www.sayanythingblog.com

Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at rport@forumcomm.com .

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Rob Port column sig
Rob Port

Rob Port column sig
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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