Republican US House candidates converge on Fargo for first debate

(Fargo, ND) — Three of the Republicans vying for the Republican nomination for the office of Congressman in North Dakota squared off in a statewide debate Friday morning in Fargo.

The debate, attended by Julie Fedorchak, Rick Becker and the North Dakota GOP endorsed candidate, Alex Balazs, was moderated by The Flag’s Scott Hennen and Steve Hallstrom. The candidates squared off on a variety of issues important to the voters ahead of June’s primary election.

Illegal immigrants

All three candidates agreed that a mass deportation of illegal immigrants should happen.

Becker, who was not eligible to receive the Republican Party’s endorsement at their recent convention, said he will “stand for funding a border wall and border security.”

“What we can do is say we will not fund these budgets,” he said. “We have leverage, but yet, we’re giving it up. The Biden administration is at fault for having the wide open border.”

Balazs said Democrats are “solely responsible for the drugs, illegals and crime coming into our country.”

“We need to secure the border and we need to deport,” he said. “It’s not that hard to do.”

Fedorchak, who lost the Republican endorsement to Balazs, said the first item to be completed is to elect Donald Trump as President.

“President Trump will secure the border,” she said. “I will stand with him in securing the border.”

Federal Debt

All three candidates were asked about their ideas to shrink federal debt, which currently stands at approximately $34.6 trillion dollars.

“Since 22 percent of our national budget every day is indiscrectionary spending, you could start right there,” Balazs said. “There are mandatory things you have to fund.”

He pointed at the Obama administration’s addition of several senior level positions in the government — saying those could be cut.

“If you get rid of that, you can get people back to work,” he said.

Fedorchak called the way the budget, federally, is put together “irresponsible.”

She addressed entitlements.

“Entitlements are 70 percent of the federal budget,” she said. “If those are always kept in a lock box because they're too precious or too politically difficult to tackle, we will never get on top of this ever.”

Becker said he would ‘slash government,’  looking at getting rid of several offices — including the Department of Education, the Federal Reserve and the EPA.

“I’d like to abolish the IRS and replace it with nothing,” he said. “There are a lot of things we can do in a step-wise process that will be the benefit for future generations.”

Pro-Life and Abortion

A hot button topic at last weekend’s North Dakota Republican Party State Convention was the pro-life and abortion issues.

“I do believe conception life begins at conception. I'm a strong pro-life candidate,” Fedorchak said. “I believe that the Supreme Court, the Dobbs decision, got it right, turning the decision back to the states and giving the states the ability to set their pro-life agenda. North Dakota has a strong pro-life record. I have been pro-life my entire career.”

Becker said that, in his time in the state legislature, he advocated for, co-sponsored and testified on several bills that are pro-life.

He did admit that he had ‘cast some wrong votes.’

“I look back on those with regret and wish I could have done it differently,” he said. “But at this point in time, there is no doubt I am the pro-life candidate.”

Balazs said he’s also pro-life.

“I think that we need to protect this and can protect our conservative stance on this,” he said. “We are under attack by the liberals on this.”


All three candidates were asked how they would rely on their principles to guide their decision making on spending if elected.

“The government's role really should be limited to protecting life, liberty, and property. Now, we've moved very far away from that. I believe very much that there, there is a role for safety nets,” Becker said. “I think those types of government policies are best when they're closest to the people. So local or state would be far better. What we've seen unfortunately is the increased dependency on government as federal programs have continued to just grow exponentially.”

Balazs said it is his belief that there is an America first priority.

“We take care of America then America's first overseas, whether it's minerals or allies or how to fight and what we're gonna take care of,” he said. “And then taking care of people because we're Americans, we're not going to back off from helping people who are oppressed and are being killed by their by dictators.”

Fedorchak said Americans need to “look at streamlining some of the federal programs.”

“We need to look at block granting as much as we can back to the states in various areas, eliminating the overhead of some of these federal bureaucratic agencies,” she said.


The candidates faced off on the topic of 45Q, which is designed to incentivize carbon capture technology currently under development.

“So if we're just talking about incentivizing industry to capture that and it meets a national interest and it helps us defend our country and become energy independent, then at times someone could argue that tax credits are good for those businesses because they need that,” Balasz said.

Fedorchak said she supports 45Q tax credits.

“Energy and agriculture are our state's leading industries. They are absolutely vital to North Dakota,” she said. “They are also vital to our nation. And this tax credit helps support both of those industries in important ways.”

Becker said he’s opposed to 45Q tax credits.

“The idea that you must support this in incredibly huge new subsidized, taxpayer subsidized program in order to be pro farmer, pro-energy pro whatever is complete nonsense,” he said. “The 45Q tax credit relies on the belief that global warming is man made and can be corrected by getting rid of carbon dioxide and burying it underground. You must believe that in order for this to make sense and then further that you must believe that it's okay to take billions and billions of dollars from the taxpayer and give it to private industry with this whole scam.”

The three candidates will be joined by fellow Republicans Sharlet Mohr and Cara Mund on the June primary ballot. The winner of June’s election will face either Roland Riemers or Trygve Hammer in the November General Election.

Original Air Date: 
Friday, April 12, 2024