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Schaffner withdraws from North Dakota's U.S. House race

Republican Paul Schaffner has withdrawn from North Dakota's U.S. House of Representatives race but said Tuesday's announcement isn't the end to his political career.

Paul Schaffner
Paul Schaffner
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Republican Paul Schaffner has withdrawn from North Dakota's U.S. House of Representatives race but said Tuesday's announcement isn't the end to his political career.

"It's in the best interest of the GOP and the state most importantly," he said.

In an e-mail statement, Schaffner said the decision to not seek the Republican nomination "was mine alone." The Bismarck businessman was one of five seeking the nomination to challenge incumbent Democrat Earl Pomeroy.

"In short; I believe Kevin Cramer and Rick Berg best serve the GOP in pursuit of the House seat," he said in the statement.

"My intention is to stay involved with the GOP and help elect two Republicans to Congress this fall," referring to the Senate and House seats that will be decided in November.


On Feb. 12, Rasmussen Reports' latest poll for the North Dakota U.S. House race put Pomeroy ahead of Schaffner 47 percent to 38 percent.

Two other Republican hopefuls fared better on the poll. State Rep. Rick Berg, R-Fargo, led Pomeroy 46 percent to 40 percent, and Pomeroy only had a slight edge over Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer, 45 percent to 44 percent.

Schaffner said Berg and Cramer "are best equipped at this time" to seek the GOP nomination. He said the Republican candidate will have a tough year ahead as they try to win the state's House seat that Pomeroy has been elected to nine times.

"It's a big undertaking and in the interest of humility, I'll let some people with experience take on the 18-year incumbent who served North Dakota well most of the time," he said.

Political future

Schaffner said he will work with Republicans during the campaign to get the nominee elected "in a positive way."

"Neither Kevin or Rick are taking anything for granted," he said. "I know they're working hard raising money. I think both of them have their strengths that people are going to look at."

Their base principles are needed in Washington, D.C., Schaffner said, and fiscal conservatism will be important as Congress makes tough decisions that could shape the federal government's scope.


"This is not an anti-government issue," he said. "It's a responsible government issue. The two guys, Rick and Kevin, they're not anti-government. They want priorities set."

The 39-year-old grew up in the Madison, Wis., area in a "UAW Democratic labor family," and said he's always been interested in politics.

During his 22 years in North Dakota, Schaffner didn't notice the same level of political passion among residents -- until just a few years ago, when high gas prices, economic concerns and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan became big issues.

"North Dakotans, they were getting really feisty about government in Washington," he said. "I'd never seen that before."

He didn't hesitate when asked if he would consider running for another elected position, perhaps as soon as 2012.

"Absolutely. I really enjoyed it, I enjoyed the people and I enjoyed the positive rhetoric," Schaffner said about his current campaign efforts. "I think I have something to offer."

Johnson reports on local politics. Reach him at (701) 780-1105; (800) 477-6572, ext. 105; or send e-mail to rjohnson@gfherald.com .

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