Hoeven wins GOP endorsement for 3rd US Senate term

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota U.S. Sen. John Hoeven won the endorsement Saturday of Republican convention delegates for a third term, besting a challenge from GOP state Rep. Rick Becker, who leads a growing ultraconservative wing of the party.

It took just one ballot for Hoeven to get more than 50% of the votes from GOP convention delegates to win the nomination. He tallied 1,224 votes, just over the needed 1,161 to reach 50% of those tallied. Becker got 1,037 votes.

More than 2,300 delegates were in attendance at the Bismarck Event Center Saturday afternoon, in what GOP organizers say was the best-attended convention in history.

The only contested race at the convention was the U.S. Senate seat held by Hoeven.

Becker, a Bismarck plastic surgeon and former gubernatorial candidate, was elected to the state House in 2012, and he founded the ultraconservative Bastiat Caucus, which supports gun rights and limited government and spending.

While Hoeven’s sign-waving supporters were more numerous, Becker’s backers were more raucous, especially as he painted his opponent as a big-spending, big government politician.

“Conservative elected officials must walk the walk or otherwise we will lose our country forever,” Becker said.

“The choice is keep bringing home the bacon or save America. Let’s save America,” Becker said.

But Hoeven’s emphasis on continuing North Dakota’s economic development and highlighting how he fiercely opposes most almost all of the policies by the Biden administration prevailed.

Fellow North Dakota U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer gave Hoeven’s nomination speech, calling him an “effective behind-the-scenes” politician.

“He uses his influence for conservative outcomes, not to score conservative rhetorical points,” Cramer said.

Former President Donald Trump, who had endorsed Hoeven prior to the convention and remains popular in North Dakota, also delivered a video message supporting him.

Trump said Hoeven is “all action, no talk.” The former president called Hoeven “a special friend of mine” who has worked with him on “tax cuts and regulation cuts.”

During a floor session earlier Saturday, Becker supporters nominated former GOP chairman Gary Emineth to chair the convention. But it only took one ballot for GOP Chairman Perrie Schafer to get more of than the 50% of votes from delegates to also chair the convention.

The vote for convention chair was seen as a proxy for the U.S. Senate race.

Hoeven was North Dakota’s governor before being elected to the Senate in 2010. He is the only governor in state history who won three four-year terms.

Candidates don’t need an endorsement to run in a primary. They only need petition signatures from 300 voters to make the ballot.

Becker said he won’t run without the endorsement. Hoeven has more than $3 million on hand for a campaign, while Becker hasn’t yet filed campaign finance reports.

Also Saturday, GOP delegates were set to endorse U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak, Tax Commissioner Brian Kroshus, Attorney General Drew Wrigley and Public Service Commissioner Sheri Haugen-Hoffart.

State Rep. Michael Howe was seeking the GOP endorsement to replace Al Jaeger, who isn’t seeking reelection.

North Dakota Democrats at their convention last week finished endorsements for several statewide candidates, but the party failed to recruit contenders for secretary of state and tax commissioner.