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Port: There were just 35 individuals who made disclosed contributions to Rick Becker's Senate campaign

According to the report, which covers funds raised between Feb. 6 and March 31 (just before the state convention) Becker raised just a bit more than $44,000 from people not named Rick Becker.

State Rep. Rick Becker, seen here while in attendance at the North Dakota Republican Party's 2022 state convention at which he unsuccessfully sought the party's endorsement for a U.S. Senate campaign.
U.S. Senate candidate Rick Becker, a Bismarck state representative, waits to speaks to delegates at the North Dakota Republican state convention on Saturday, April 2, 2022.
Photo by Kyle Martin
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MINOT, N.D. — Coming out of the NDGOP's state convention earlier this month, one of the primary talking points for the backers of failed U.S. Senate candidate Rick Becker is that the state's Republican "establishment" didn't respect the convention delegates.

Incumbent Sen. John Hoeven, who won the convention's endorsement, didn't commit to abiding by the convention's decision. Had he not received that endorsement, he would have campaigned to the June primary for the decision of rank-and-file Republican voters statewide.

According to the Becker backers, this was some evil sort of betrayal of the convention delegates.

I never bought into that talking point. If Becker thought he could win in June, I thought, he would have run a primary campaign after losing at the convention. He didn't because, as I've mentioned before, he was afraid a landslide loss to Hoeven on the statewide ballot would shatter the myth of his widespread appeal.

But now I've seen Becker's April quarterly campaign report, just filed this morning, April 12, with the FEC, and the first report his Senate campaign has filed since he launched it this cycle, and we now have a more palpable reason for Becker's demurral.

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He probably couldn't afford it.

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According to the report, which covers funds raised between Feb. 6 and March 31 (just before the state convention) Becker raised just a bit more than $41,000 from people not named Rick Becker.

The rest of his take in this period came from a $500,000 loan Becker made to his own campaign, a $1,000 contribution from his legislative campaign committee, and some PAC money.

Even accounting for the fact that Becker only launched his campaign in February, that's a paltry sum, especially for a candidate who cast himself as riding some tidal wave of grassroots support.

If he was, where is the evidence of that tidal wave? He didn't win at the convention. He refused to run in the June primary. And, based on this report, which covered pretty much the entirety of his campaign up to the day of the convention, few were opening their wallets to him.

Get this: Just 35 individuals contributed itemized funds to Becker's campaign.

Yikes. There were certainly more individuals who made contributions of less than $200 that, under federal election law, didn't need to be itemized — there were just over $11,000 of those representing, based on basic math, perhaps another 55 or so people — but even accounting for that, these are dismal numbers.

Here's another interesting fact from the report: It seems like Becker could probably get all, or perhaps most, of his money back.

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His campaign still had over $524,000 in cash on hand (including Becker's loan) at the end of this reporting period. Obviously, there are going to be some expenses that wind up in the next reporting period, but Becker's campaign was surprisingly frugal.

If he was so committed to winning the Senate endorsement, why didn't he spend more of the money available to him? He didn't even spend all of the paltry sum his dozens of supporters contributed pre-convention, and $5,000 of that total was the "qualifying fee" the NDGOP now requires of Senate candidates seeking their convention endorsement.

I wonder how his more ardent supporters are going to feel about Becker being so tight-fisted in a campaign he literally portrayed as one to save America ?

Hoeven's campaign, meanwhile, hasn't filed their April quarterly report yet.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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