BISMARCK β€” A small group of North Dakota Republicans say they will hold a GOP party convention in Bismarck on Saturday, July 25, despite party officials dismissing the event as illegitimate.

The group, led by former Republican national committeeman Curly Haugland, says in an email newsletter to delegates that "without a convention, there is no party!" The newsletter argues that the party is merely an "unincorporated association of individuals" and that each convention recreates the party.

Curly Haugland of Bismarck
Curly Haugland of Bismarck

The party canceled its official convention this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and instead sent delegates absentee ballots to decide on a series of party-related topics.

The newsletter says Saturday's meetup at the Bismarck Event Center is needed to conduct the essential work of adopting a platform and electing a national committeeman and committeewoman, presidential electors and official delegates to the party's national convention. The group also says it must draft special rules for the convention and select a site for the 2022 convention.

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Party Chairman Rick Berg said all of the business the unaffiliated convention plans to conduct was already addressed when more than 100 party leaders met in Medora last weekend. Berg added that he's "puzzled by the purpose" of the event because none of the decisions made Saturday will be binding in any way.

Berg also said the Republican National Committee granted the state party a waiver to conduct its official business without holding a full in-person convention. The one-time congressman noted that even if the group were following the rules, it would need to have a quorum of at least half of the party's 950 delegates to make any decisions at a convention.

Haugland declined to comment on his involvement with the unapproved convention and said no one can speak on behalf of the event.