Aug. 23, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Republicans Seek Straight Flush in North Dakota

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Looking ahead to 2016, Democrats will attempt to defeat Hoeven, the three-term governor who demolished his Democratic opponent in 2010.

If politics were poker, North Dakota Republicans would hold all the right cards and the deck would be stacked in their favor.

Except for Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, the GOP controls every state and federal elected position in the Sioux State. The GOPís good political fortune continues with the stateís booming economy, fueled by recently tapped oil reserves, and an unemployment rate that sits below 3 percent.

With no Senate races until 2016, state Democrats are angling to break back into the game in 2014 and unseat Rep. Kevin Cramer. This cycle marks the first in four years without a Senate race, and Democrats argue that Cramer will receive more scrutiny than he did during his first campaign in 2012.

But party sources say Cramer has become more politically savvy since he upset a crowded GOP field to win the nod last cycle. He defeated his Democratic opponent by 13 points in the open-seat race to succeed Republican Rep. Rick Berg.

Still, state Democrats are talking up potential Cramer challengers.

State Sen. George B. Sinner is eyeing a House bid, according to Chad Oban, executive director of the North Dakota Democratic Nonpartisan League Party. Sinner, the son of former two-term Gov. George A. Sinner, boasts strong name recognition in the state.

Looking ahead to 2016, Democrats will attempt to defeat GOP Sen. John Hoeven, the three-term governor who demolished his Democratic opponent in 2010.

Sources agreed that there are a handful of Democrats who could contend for Congress in the coming cycles. In addition to Sinner, Democrats mention state Rep. Corey Mock and U.S. Department of Agriculture State Director Jasper Schneider as the top players on their partyís bench.

Oban argued that youth is on the side of his party. Mock, serving since 2009, is one of eight Democrats elected to the state legislature in 2012 who were under 35 years old. Schneider, who previously served as a state representative for three years, is still shy of 35.

As for Republican hopefuls, there isnít much room for upward mobility. Any one of the current GOP elected officials, from public service commissioner to the governor, could be congressional material in upcoming years, a source said.

Julie Fedorchak, for instance, is a public service commissioner with plenty of congressional potential, a Republican operative said. Still, the operative stressed that Fedorchak is just one of many capable state-level Republican leaders.

Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple is well-liked, sources said, but heís made no indication that heís considering a congressional bid. He unsuccessfully ran for Senate in 1988 and 1992.

Aside from keeping Cramer in office, Republicans are focused on unseating Heitkamp in 2018. Sources on both sides of the aisle agree that she is the Democratsí ace in the hole.

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