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Poli Sci professor: Rational reasons for candidates skipping conventions

A number of Republican candidates at the statewide and Legislative district level have said they’re planning to bypass the state and local endorsing conventions – and go right to the June primary.

University of North Dakota Political Science professor Mark Jendrysik said he understands the rationale for that.

"I think it's also a rational thing to do, if you don't think you're going to get the endorsement anyway," Jendrysik said in an interview. "Why bother wasting time going to the convention, schmoozing delegates, when you are going to lose? It's a totally rational thing to do, to save time and money, and potential embarrassment — and just go directly to the voters."

Jendrysik said when Kevin Cramer first ran for the US House, he skipped the convention, and won in the primary. He said that was also true when Doug Burgum defeated the GOP’s Convention endorsed candidate for Governor, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.

In this cycle, Lieutenant Governor Tammy Miller will seek the Republican endorsement for Governor in the primary.

"I think that's wise for her," Jendrysik said. "She knows that (Kelly) Armstrong probably has the party's endorsement wrapped up."

Jendrysik said Armstrong has been working much longer than Miller.

"Why waste your time going to where you know you're going to lose," Jendrysyk said. "You avoid the potential embarrassment."

The two parties’ statewide endorsing conventions are scheduled in early April.

Candidate Announcements

Also, more and more candidates for public office are announcing via press release or social media – and not so much in person or at an event.

A few candidates have had campaign kick-off rallies, in front of supporters and reporters.

Jendrysik said this shows the diminishing utility of the political party as a means of getting elected.

"Everyone's a political entrepreneur now," Jendrysik said. "They finance their own campaigns, raise their own money, find their own donors. So the party has less and less to do with these campaigns."

Jendrysik said he doesn’t think that’s a good thing.

"It's a bad thing for party discipline," Jendrysik said. "It's a bad thing for trying to advance coherent policy in the Legislature, when everyone is their own political party, defining the Republican Party as they see fit."

As for the campaign rallies, Jendrysik said they probably aren't effective.

"They look good on TV," Jendrysik said. "They think they look strong, because they have a couple of hundred people yelling and screaming their names."

Jendrysik said it is probably better for the campaigns to send out mailers that talk about the candidate and the issues.

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