Ben Hanson for Congress: A Good Idea

So it begins. North Dakota has its first official candidate in the 2018 election. Given all the weird shit (read: Trump) that’s been going on over the last 8 months or so, I’m eager for a fresh start, and my young friend Ben Hanson has provided that. Thank you, Ben.

Ben Hanson official campaign photo

Ben sent me an e-mail shortly after midnight last night announcing he is running for Congress, to represent the great state of North Dakota in Washington, DC. I hope he wins.

He’s running against another friend of mine, Kevin Cramer (who I used to vote for until he went crazy on me in this Trump thing) if he gets the endorsement of the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party next spring. To do that, he may have to sneak past a couple other Democrats who are said to be considering the race, former State Senator Mac Schneider and current State Senator Merrill Piepkorn. Both are better known across the state, Schneider the former Senate Minority Leader and Grand Forks attorney who was ousted from his District 42 State Senate seat last November, and Piepkorn the longtime voice on Prairie Public Radio, who won his first race for the State Senate in the same election in Fargo’s District 44. Neither has announced, but if they do, it will be a healthy thing for the Democrats. I can see them traveling around the state together seeking the party endorsement, like the four Democrats–George Sinner, Art Link, Buckshot Hoffner and Walt Hjelle–did in the run-up to the 1984 Democratic-NPL convention. That was good for the party, and the attention it got helped Sinner defeat incumbent Allen Olson in the November election that year.

I really like Ben Hanson (no relation to Bob Hanson, the former Democratic-NPL state officeholder) and will support him in his efforts to get the nomination, despite my friendship with Schneider and Piepkorn. I first met him in 2006, when he was a teenager getting involved in Democratic-NPL Party politics. He was making a video about Art and Grace Link and I think we showed it at the State Democratic-NPL Convention. I could see he had an intense interest in politics, even as a young college student.

He went on to get his college degree and become a real estate broker. He got involved in his local district party, and got himself elected to the Legislature from Fargo’s District 16, where he served two sessions before losing a re-election effort last year. He quickly got involved in leadership in the Legislature, becoming his party’s House Caucus Co-Chair and he called me from time to time to get together and talk strategy for the future of the party and the state.

He called last spring, and we sat and drank a beer, and he said he thought he’d like to run for Congress, and asked me what I thought. I said “Go!” in the strongest possible terms. I like his ideas about our state, his political knowledge despite only being 30 years old, and his belief that people should be involved in politics for the future of the state, not the future of the candidate. Whether or not he becomes our state’s Congressman, he’ll be around in leadership roles for a long time.

It’s heartening to see young people like Ben Hanson getting involved in politics and government at this level. I hope he becomes our Congressman. Here’s what he had to say in his announcement e-mail:


Vows to fight for North Dakota families, create good middle-class jobs & grow North Dakota’s economy

(FARGO, ND) – Lifelong North Dakotan Ben Hanson announced today his intention to run for North Dakota’s lone seat in the United States House of Representatives. Hanson released the following statement:

“I’m excited to be running to become North Dakota’s next Congressman because I love North Dakota. I was born here, raised here, and my family has farmed North Dakota ground for generations. They taught me North Dakota values like hard work, dedication and looking out for your neighbor. These values have guided me this far in life and just as I have lived by them I will run by them.”

“I’m running because I believe that North Dakota deserves a congressman who will focus on the needs of hard-working North Dakotans — creating good paying jobs for working families, strengthening the middle class, and building an economy that works for everyone. Over the course of my campaign, I will focus on boosting job growth and jumpstarting our economy by investing in small businesses, an all-of-the-above energy strategy, and rebuilding our infrastructure.”

“North Dakota needs an advocate in Washington to help solve problems and navigate its complexities. Unfortunately, Kevin Cramer has lost focus on issues that matter to North Dakotans and instead has become part of the mess that is Washington, D.C. Together we can move forward — with an eye toward bringing North Dakota values and work-ethic to the halls of Congress. I look forward to the privilege of representing the people of North Dakota and earning your support.”

Kenton Onstad, Former House Minority Leader, Parshall School Board Member:

“Ben not only understands the complexities and the dynamics of Western North Dakota but the entire state of North Dakota. He would represent all of the citizens of our state. Young or old, male or female, those fortunate or less fortunate, Ben would be proud to represent you, as you would be of him.”

North Dakota State Senator Tim Mathern:

“I’m excited to see Ben Hanson enter the race, as well as this new leadership for our state, and a rebirth of the party. As an added bonus Ben Hanson’s roots are deep across North Dakota, from Crosby to the Red River Valley. We will all benefit with Ben Hanson in Congress.”

About Ben Hanson:

With family from Crosby to Casselton, Ben Hanson is a lifelong North Dakotan with deep roots in this community. Ben grew up in the Red River Valley, attending Fargo South High School, and he is a graduate of Minnesota State University-Moorhead.

As a North Dakota State Representative, Ben was focused on making North Dakota a leader in creating good-paying technology jobs and making state government more transparent.

Ben currently works as a Commercial Broker for Archer Real Estate Services and lives in Fargo.



Twitter: @hansonfornd

3 thoughts on “Ben Hanson for Congress: A Good Idea

  1. Ben might be a great person, but how can he realistically compete with Cramer? How is he not the next in a long line of sacrificial Democratic lambs for the House since Earl was defeated?


    1. Tom, this will be up to the people who want Cramer replaced. There is no question that a lot of work will be required on the part of a lot of people to defeat Cramer but surely we must take advantage of a campaign year to converse with North Dakotans about issues that matter. If we don’t have a candidate, we don’t have a voice in this conversation and the better our candidate, the more persuasive our voice.

      Ben certainly seems to be off to a good start. His campaign announcement was articulate and professional. I’ve just received a solicitation from him this morning focused entirely on the Republican threats to Social Security. This is a complex issue because so many have been convinced already that Social Security (like Obamacare) is on its last legs. But with the kind of person-to-person campaign that wins in North Dakota, an articulate candidate can help people to understand the issue and see how they have been mislead.

      It also is true that many, many candidates must run more than once to ultimately see victory. (Quentin Burdick, in an outburst of hyperbole, once told me that he’d run 23 times before winning his first race.) If Ben doesn’t make it in his first statewide run, he will have significantly increased his visibility, local connections across the State and his name identification in support of another run. (And, really, his surname has to be helpful from the get!)

      Thanks, Jim, for this piece. I agree that a three-way primary would be very helpful, but I’m happy to send Ben some money to help him get started and to wish him the best in his quest.


  2. “If Ben doesn’t make it in his first statewide run, he will have significantly increased his visibility, local connections across the State and his name identification in support of another run.”

    That doesn’t seem to have helped Chase Iron Eyes, George Sinner, or Pam Gulleson build towards a future successful campaign.

    I just think that the ND Dems need to find a candidate with more public or private experience on which to base a campaign than the past candidates or Ben Hanson have had. Obviously there are very few Dems with significant public experience right now as the party reaches a low point in its statewide representation. But the solution in my eyes is to recruit someone with genuine and substantial private sector experience to promote their candidacy, not another person who may well be a great representative but is not a good candidate.


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