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Mike Nowatzki, Forum News Service, Published February 03 2014

Sinner reaches decision on US House race; now he has to get others to agree

BISMARCK – State Sen. George B. Sinner said he has reached a decision on whether to challenge Republican incumbent Rep. Kevin Cramer in November for North Dakota’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

He just isn’t saying what it is.

“I have my decision made. I just have got to get some other people to agree with my decision,” Sinner, D-Fargo, said in an interview Monday at the Capitol in Bismarck, where he was attending a legislative committee meeting.

Sinner, a senior vice president with American Federal Bank in Fargo and the son of former North Dakota governor George “Bud” Sinner, told Forum News Service last month that he would likely announce a decision before Feb. 1, but he didn’t do so.

“I have to convince some other people to go along with my decision, the decision that I want,” he said Monday. “Now, that could be the state party, or that could be my spouse, or that could be my employer. I mean, there’s a lot of people that play a huge role in this.”

Sinner said he’s “still in the process” of deciding whether to challenge Cramer, a first-term congressman who has said he intends to seek the North Dakota Republican Party’s endorsement after bypassing the nominating convention in 2012. Libertarian Party candidate Jack Seaman of Fargo is Cramer’s only declared challenger so far.

“The other thing, I think, is the minute I say something, then it becomes a campaign,” Sinner said. “I think campaigns are too long, I think they’re too negative, and I think they cost too much,” he said.

“If I get the pieces in place, I’ll make an announcement. If I don’t get those, you won’t hear anything,” he added.

Sinner is serving his first four-year term in the Legislature, having won election in 2012.

Chad Oban, director of the state’s Democratic-NPL Party, said there are other potential House candidates waiting for Sinner to announce his decision, but he said whoever the candidate is, the party is excited about its prospects of defeating Cramer given the current unpopularity of Congress.

Jason Flohrs, executive director of the North Dakota GOP, said any Democratic challenger will face an uphill battle against Cramer because of the “great job” Cramer has done and because of President Obama’s low approval rating.

“I think the reason that you haven’t heard anything official (from Democrats) yet is because everybody knows this isn’t going to be an easy race,” he said.

Cramer ended 2013 with $292,764 in campaign cash on hand and just $1,755 in debt, according to federal campaign disclosures. Flohrs called Cramer’s war chest “a huge disadvantage” for Democrats.

“Every day that they’re waiting it gets harder,” he said.

Oban said Cramer’s war chest won’t be insurmountable for the Democrats’ candidate.

“I think when it’s all said and done, our candidate will be well-financed in a competitive race,” he said.


Reach Nowatzki at (701) 255-5607 or by email at mnowatzki@forumcomm.com.