Dem Embraces Banking Past

By John Celock

The Democratic nominee for North Dakota’s sole congressional seat is highlighting his work as a banker in a new ad.

State Sen. George Sinner (D-Fargo) used the ad, posted Wednesday, to stress his work as a community banker and highlight his work in the Senate on college loan payments. Sinner, the son of former Gov. George Sinner (D), is challenging U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) in the November election.

Sinner is differing from his party in order to embrace his banking career, but also takes pains to stress that he was a community banker. He starts the ad standing in front of a bank in Cavalier, N.D., in the state’s northeast corner to highlight his work there. He then notes the distance between the bank and the investment banks that progressive Democrats have been targeting.

“North Dakota is a long way from Washington This bank in Cavalier is no where near Wall Street,” Sinner said in the ad. “But the values I learned in here as a small town banker is what I will bring to Congress.”

According to Sinner’s biography on the website of American Federal Bank, the candidate is a senior vice president in the bank’s ag and business practice. The bio said he works with agri-businesses, including grain elevators, seed processors and large farms, on financing issues. The website notes that in addition to clients in North Dakota’s Red River Valley, Sinner has worked with agri-business clients in South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Arizona and New Mexico.

While Sinner takes pains to distance his banking work from the Wall Street investment banks that have drawn the ire of Democrats around the country, he is one of the few in his party to embrace his banking past. In New York State, former U.S. Rep. Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.) has rarely discussed her work as a vice president for a Buffalo area bank in her bid for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor. Hochul’s opponent, progressive Columbia University law professor Tim Wu has slammed Hochul as a “bank lobbyist” in his bid to grab the nomination. Hochul has instead focused on her work in Congress, as Erie County clerk and as a local councilwoman.

North Dakota elections, though, tend to draw a more moderate to conservative electorate than a Democratic primary in New York.

In the ad, Sinner also stressed that he wants to make college more affordable, saying that 83 percent of North Dakota students have student loan debt, which he said is the highest rate in the country. Sinner noted he wrote a state law to reduce loan payments.

“I approve this message because I will not let anyone bankrupt North Dakota’s future,” Sinner said at the end of the ad.