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McCain camp details N.D. campaign efforts

BISMARCK -- You won't see any John McCain campaign offices per se, nor paid McCain staff, in North Dakota, a regional campaign manager said last week.

BISMARCK -- You won't see any John McCain campaign offices per se, nor paid McCain staff, in North Dakota, a regional campaign manager said last week.

But he is organized here nonetheless, Republicans said. Ben Golnik, a former executive director for the Minnesota Republican Party, was in the state last week to visit with Republicans about the Arizona senator's presidential campaign. The McCain campaign will piggyback with statewide Republican coordinated campaign efforts, said Golnik and North Dakota party Chairman Gary Emineth. And it is all volunteers.

Golnik said the campaign has "somewhere over 10,000 folks on our e-mail list in North Dakota. We've got a strong organization throughout the state." Eventually, the campaign will be organized down to the precinct level.

He said no matter how many dollars Democrat Barack Obama's campaign spends in North Dakota on staff and TV ads, it is not going to change Obama's record or positions, and North Dakotans will still be voting GOP in the presidential race in November.

N.D. moving pink?


Countering the McCain campaign somewhat, a national political observer and journalist said North Dakota has softened from bright red to a pinkish red in the presidential stakes.

Louis Jacobson wrote recently in his Out There column on Stateline.org that in his most recent "shades of purple" list, that "new members of the purple club, accounting for 23 electoral votes are Indiana, Montana, North Dakota, Alaska and South Dakota."

He ranks his purple states on a scale of "likely Democratic," "lean Democratic," "toss-up," "lean Republican" and "likely Republican."

Jacobson said North Dakota, previously considered "safe Republican," or solid red, has moved into the "likely Republican" column.Here's a link to his Aug. 14 column and map: www.stateline.org/live/details/story?contentId333476

Dorgan for VP?

Over the years, it's not been uncommon to come across suggestions that Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., be considered as a vice presidential candidate. Last week, it was Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., who was spotted on someone's wish list.

The Pueblo (Colo.) Chieftain newspaper ran a story Wednesday about whom its local Democrats would like to see on the Obama ticket.

Colorado state Rep. Buffie McFayden of Pueblo West said she was still pining away for New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, whom she had supported in the early caucuses and primaries because "he's a true Westerner. He understands our values and issues. And another true Western Democrat is Sen. Byron Dorgan."


Officeholders' ads

North Dakota's elected officials should not appear in taxpayer-financed public service announcements, said a state senator who plans to introduce legislation to ban the practice.

State Sen. Tracy Potter, D-Bismarck, said his suggestion was prompted by Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm's prominent billing in recent television and radio advertisements about Insurance Department programs that benefit seniors.

Hamm, a Republican running for election this fall, used $35,000 in federal grants to produce the ads and buy broadcast time.

Democrats said Hamm is campaigning at taxpayer expense, and North Dakota's Democratic congressional delegation has requested a federal probe into whether the money was properly spent.

Potter said his bill would bar any state official from using his or her name, image or voice in any public service ad about the services offered by their agencies.

"Incumbents already have plenty of advantages," he said. "This gives them one more chance to publicize themselves, and it is an abuse."

Potter's suggested legislation would prevent Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson, a Democrat, from appearing in ads about events sponsored by the state Agriculture Department, including the Pride of Dakota Holiday Showcase and Marketplace for Entrepreneurs.


Tax Commissioner Cory Fong, a Republican, wouldn't be allowed to appear in Tax Department ads that urge North Dakotans to file their state income tax returns electronically, or that spotlight income tax credits for North Dakota property owners.

Fong said such advertisements are a major part of the job of educating people about what his department does and how to file their taxes.

"Who better to carry that message about how these things work than the elected official?" Fong said. "I think with that, there's a certain amount of credibility that is established, because we are elected, and I think we play a role in carrying that message."

Johnson said he has avoided appearing in agency ads during the election season. He said he would be interested in seeing the details of Potter's legislation, which has not yet been drafted.

"It sounds kind of extreme, but I don't know where the line should be drawn," Johnson said. "It's a good discussion for the Legislature to have. I think they'll find lots and lots and lots of questions that are going to have to be answered."

Hamm said there was nothing wrong with elected officials appearing in advertisements about the services their agencies offer.

If an officeholder appears in an ad, the image adds credibility and gives people a "point of reference" to inquire later about the ad's contents, Hamm said.

Cole reports for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Herald. The last item came from The Associated Press.

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