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Published June 15 2010

Mitt Romney to appear at North Dakota GOP gathering

North Dakota Republicans continue to draw the eyes of national party figures this election year and will welcome another one to the state next week.

Former presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is slated to be the featured guest of the North Dakota GOP at a party fundraiser June 22 near Mapleton, N.D.

The event will be held at the farm of former U.S. Sen. Mark Andrews, a veteran figure in the state GOP. At a cost of $1,000 per couple, the fundraiser is aimed at party supporters to boost the state GOP’s purse in helping candidates vie for state and federal offices this year.

“This election is about Washington and the federal races,” said Gary Emineth, North Dakota GOP chairman. “We’re really spending a lot of time focusing on the reality of taking back a few seats in Washington, and we have to raise money to do it.”

Romney’s presence also serves as a way to continue the early momentum North Dakota Republicans have had so far this election cycle, with the strong bids by Senate candidate Gov. John Hoeven and House candidate Rick Berg.

The men are seeking to win two of North Dakota’s three congressional seats, all of which are currently held by Democrats.

“(Romney) is a proven leader and a voice, which carries practical wisdom and inspiration with conviction and determination,” Emineth wrote Monday in an e-mail newsletter to party supporters.

Hoeven and Berg campaign managers confirmed Monday that both candidates plan to attend the fundraiser. GOP candidates for statewide offices also have been invited, Emineth said.

But it won’t be an official campaign stop. The newsletter included the caveat that Hoeven and Berg “are not soliciting contributions for this event, and they are appearing only as featured guests.”

“We’re happy to have Governor Romney here to continue to build upon the excitement that we’re seeing from the Republicans in the state,” Hoeven campaign manager Don Larson said.

Other nationally known Republican leaders have already visited North Dakota this year, in shows of support to the state party and its slate of candidates.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell backed Hoeven at a January campaign rally in Fargo, and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty was the keynote speaker at the GOP state convention in March.

Both Pawlenty and Romney are considered possibilities in vying for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541