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Port: This is what a rigged political convention actually looks like

The District 3 NDGOP committee, which is one of the Bastiat Caucus bastions, held an endorsing convention that locked out any newcomers.

PHOTO: Jared Hendrix
Bastiat Caucus organizer Jared Hendrix speaks during a rally at the North Dakota Capitol on April 5, 2021.
Jeremy Turley / Forum News Service
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MINOT, N.D. — The NDGOP held its statewide endorsing convention, and state Rep. Rick Becker lost decisively in the Senate race to incumbent John Hoeven.

In the days since, the Becker backers have been filling up social media with a lot of hot talk about why Becker lost, most of it rooted in conspiracy theories about the "establishment" rigging the game, blah, blah, blah.

For these people there are only ever two possible outcomes: They win, or the other side cheated.

Do we expect anything else from a group of people who are still waiting for Donald Trump's lawyers to unleash the "kraken" of evidence that will overturn the 2020 election?

But speaking of untoward political machinations, shall we take a look at what happens when the Becker backers are in control of a convention?

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Monday night, April 4, the NDGOP committee in District 3 held their endorsing convention with Becker campaign consultant Jared Hendrix serving as the parliamentarian.

I got a report from some of the people who were on the scene, and would it surprise you to learn that the rules were crafted specifically to deny a voice to new delegates? The very thing the Becker backers are (without any basis in reality) accusing statewide NDGOP leadership of?

Screenshot of the Facebook event page for the District 3 NDGOP's endorsing convention held April 4, 2022.
Screenshot of the Facebook event page for the District 3 NDGOP's endorsing convention held April 4, 2022.
Screenshot by Rob Port

"You had to be a paid member of the D3 Republicans in 2021 to be eligible to vote," one attendee told me.

This is confirmed by messaging on the Facebook event created for the convention. "If you were a due-paying [sic] member in 2021, then you are eligible to cast a vote to determine the endorsed Republican District 3 candidates for the election held on June 14th, 2022," it states .

People who attended the convention but weren't dues-paying members last year had to wear orange wristbands to indicate they couldn't vote. Those who could vote got green wristbands.

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I'm just not seeing a constituency of North Dakota voters that Mund could appeal to that's large enough to lead her to victory. But, again, that's assuming that she's running to win, and not as a way to keep her celebrity alive post-Miss America.

While Hendrix, who is also chair of the term limits ballot measure committee that is currently under criminal investigation for alleged petition fraud, has been busy trashing the state NDGOP for supposedly disenfranchising delegates, yet he helped run a local convention that locked out anyone who wasn't already a member of the district GOP last year.

Just moved into District 3 in 2022 and wanted to participate? Too bad, you're locked out.

Never been involved in politics before and wanted to participate? Too bad, you're locked out.

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Just turned 18 and wanted to get involved as a legal voter in your first election cycle? Too bad, you're locked out.

It's a great way to make sure that the people already in power in the district get to stay in power, and it's obvious why the Bastiat Caucus crowd would want to do this. District 3 is at the heart of their power base.

They didn't want anyone new getting in there.

Hendrix and Becker have been patting themselves on the back for all the new delegates their movement brought to the NDGOP's state convention, yet if the state NDGOP committee had the same rules the District 3 committee did, those delegates wouldn't have been able to participate.

This district is home to Sen. Oley Larsen, the current leader of the Bastiat Caucus of Trumpy Republicans founded by Becker, though Larsen opted not to run again . The district endorsed current state Rep. Bob Paulson for the Senate, incumbent Rep. Jeff Hoverson for the first House seat, and newcomer Lori Vanwinkle for the second House seat.

Former state Rep. Roscoe Streyle, who had announced last week that he'd be seeking another term, was not endorsed but will run in the June primary.

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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