The Campaign Spot

In North Dakota, Republicans Are Waiting On Hoeven

Earlier today, while discussing North Dakota’s Senate race, I mentioned, “some folks in that neck of the woods seem to think a Governor John Hoeven –Senator Byron Dorgan matchup is very likely. This would be fantastic news for the GOP, as Hoeven is very popular and one poll had him topping Dorgan by 20 percentage points.”

A Republican watching the potential match-up closely tells me that while all the polling data is obviously supremely encouraging  — especially this one that shows a whopping 64 percent of North Dakotans opposed to the health care bill Dorgan just voted to move forward — there is no reason to believe a decision from Hoeven is imminent. However, this GOP source notes that a quick decision in this race is not as critical as it would be in other states, given the Governor’s universal name ID and overwhelming popularity in the state.

A Grand Forks Herald columnist puts the odds on him running:

Here lies a possible explanation of Hoeven’s deliberate decision to delay announcing his plans. Delay is to his advantage politically because it allows him to assess changes in the political climate and to avoid massive spending on political advertising.

There is risk, as well.

By delaying his announcement, Hoeven has kept any other Republican from mounting a campaign. This surely means that he is the only candidate who could win, even if the electorate became hostile toward Obama and the Democrats.

If Hoeven says “no,” he’ll incur the wrath of his own party, potentially jeopardizing his effectiveness as governor and his viability as a Senate candidate in 2012.

So, what’s most likely?

Hoeven will run.

Ordinarily, a delayed decision tends to make a race seem less likely. On the other hand, the state is set for Hoeven in a way few politicians ever get to enjoy. Other Republicans are largely waiting to see the governor’s decision. If he passes, he’ll probably leave a lot of irritated Republicans in North Dakota and in Washington…

The locals love him, in part, because of his snow-shoveling abilities

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