Dems: Fewer candidatesNorth Dakota Democrats will miss their final chance Tuesday to put up legislative candidates in districts in Devils Lake, Williston and Bismarck, which makes it likely their Republican incumbents will run unopposed this fall.
By: By Dale Wetzel, The Associated Press, The Jamestown Sun
BISMARCK — North Dakota Democrats will miss their final chance Tuesday to put up legislative candidates in districts in Devils Lake, Williston and Bismarck, which makes it likely their Republican incumbents will run unopposed this fall.
Democrats did not field a full slate of candidates for the North Dakota House and Senate when the April 9 deadline passed for legislative hopefuls to run in Tuesday’s primary. In the Senate alone, seven GOP incumbents did not have re-election challengers.
North Dakota law gives legislative candidates who miss April’s deadline a chance to organize a June primary write-in campaign to qualify for the fall ballot. Candidates who get about 140 write-in votes in Tuesday’s primary will be eligible to run in the Democratic, Republican or Libertarian ballot columns in November.
However, Democrats are not planning any write-in efforts in the legislative districts where they do not have a full slate, spokeswoman Meredith Pickett said.
Any write-in hopefuls are required to notify local election officials of their intentions, and county auditors said Monday that no Democrats had done so.
“Areas where we don’t have candidates sometimes are ... not in our favor anyway,” Pickett said. “Obviously we’d like to have as many legislative candidates as we can, but the truth is that we have great legislative candidates ... and I think we’re going to do well in the fall.”
Sen. Bob Stenehjem, R-Bismarck, the North Dakota Senate’s Republican majority leader, said he was “surprised (Democrats) didn’t find somebody here or there.”
“I don’t think it’s a good thing,” Stenehjem said. “Every district should have challenges.”
Twenty-four of North Dakota’s 47 legislative districts have House and Senate races this year. Each district is represented by two House members and a senator, and the Democratic and Republican parties typically run two House candidates and a Senate candidate for each seat.
Republicans are defending 10 of the 24 Senate seats on the ballot, and 28 of the 48 House seats.
Democrats are not fielding any House or Senate candidates in District 1, which includes the city of Williston; District 15, which covers Devils Lake, rural Ramsey County and part of southern Towner County; or District 47, in northwestern Bismarck.
In five other districts, at least one Democrat is running for the Legislature, but the party is short of the normal three-person slate. A full statewide legislative ticket would have 72 House and Senate candidates; North Dakota Democrats have 55 hopefuls on the ballot.
Republicans lack candidates for two House seats in District 9, a Democratic stronghold that includes the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa reservation, and a Senate candidate in District 11, where Democrat Tim Mathern has served for 24 years. However, Fargo Republican Troy Durham is waging a write-in campaign for the GOP spot to challenge Mathern in the fall.
Durham said Monday he had not been aware Mathern was running unopposed until the April filing deadline passed. He said he was confident of getting the 137 write-in votes he needs in Tuesday’s election.
“This has been in the works for some time,” Durham said of his write-in effort.
Adam Jones, the state Republican Party’s director, said the GOP did not plan any write-in effort in District 9, and Rolette County officials said no Republican House candidate had filed the required paperwork.