BISMARCK - North Dakota Democrats were regrouping Wednesday after an Election Day drubbing that saw the party lose all seven statewide contests by double-digit margins and barely put a dent in Republicans’ legislative supermajority.

“We’re going to rebuild,” Democratic-NPL Party Chairman Bob Valeu said.

Republicans have held power in the Senate since 1992 and in the House since 1984, enjoying a two-thirds majority in both chambers since 2010. They’ve also occupied the governor’s office since 1992 and currently hold all elected statewide offices and two of the state’s three seats in Washington.

When the Legislature assembles in January, Republicans will hold a 32-15 edge over Democrats in the Senate and a 71-23 advantage in the House.

Democrats picked up one Senate seat on Tuesday with Erin Oban’s victory over Rep. Margaret Sitte, R-Bismarck, in District 35.

In the House, Democrat Pamela Anderson’s win over Republican Rep. Bette Grande in District 41 in Fargo was canceled out by Rep. Ed Gruchalla’s loss to GOP candidates Tom Kading and Mary Johnson, also in Fargo.

“It was certainly disappointing,” Valeu said. “I think the one good side of it was that we were able to push back on the extreme social agenda of the Republican Party, and I think they need to take note of that.”

Sitte and Grande have been among the Legislature’s strongest advocates for anti-abortion legislation. Sitte was the chief sponsor of Measure 1, the “right to life” constitutional amendment rejected by 64 percent of voters Tuesday.

“I think that North Dakota sent a message that we don’t want (the Legislature) to spend a full month talking about women’s health issues during this next session,” said Dem-NPL Executive Director Chad Oban, who is married to Erin Oban.

Jason Flohrs, executive director of the North Dakota Republican Party, said Sitte has done “a great job” for District 35, but Democrats “put all their eggs into one basket and spent a ton of money” on a campaign that tried to tie her to the abortion issue.

“There’s much more to Margaret than just that one issue, but Democrats were really able to key in on that, and I think it made the difference,” he said, adding Grande “got caught up in that as well.”

House Majority Leader Al Carlson of Fargo said he doesn’t know if anti-abortion bills will surface against next session, “but we will address them if they come up.” He said the abortion issue didn’t dominate the last session and predicted that tax relief and infrastructure will again be the top issues.

As for the Sitte and Grande losses, “They can crow all they want about those two races, but there were a whole lot of other people in that legislative assembly that voted for those bills, and they all won,” Carlson said.

“In reality, they might have won one battle but they lost the war, because they still are the same minority that they were before, because the people supported our policies,” he said.

In what some viewed as Democrats’ best shot at winning a statewide elected office, former state senator Ryan Taylor lost to Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring by a 14-point margin - the closest statewide contest – despite campaign ads dogging Goehring for his admittedly inappropriate comments to female staff in 2012.

Name recognition wasn’t enough to help Democratic state Rep. George Sinner of Fargo, son of former North Dakota governor George “Bud” Sinner, overcome U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer for the state’s lone U.S. House seat.

Voters also elected State Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger to his first four-year term, about a month after the Republican appointee completed an inpatient treatment program in Minnesota for an alcohol addiction problem that had caused him to miss work last summer. Rauschenberger easily defeated political newcomer Jason Astrup, 57 percent to 37 percent.

Flohrs said the GOP wins “show that North Dakota voters are interested in results.”

Chad Oban said the national wave of GOP wins didn’t bode well for his party’s candidates.

“When Democrats are losing governor’s races in Massachusetts and Maryland, it’s going to be a tough night for Democrats in the Dakotas,” he said.

Valeu and Oban said Democrats still have a strong bench of potential candidates, mentioning the names of Senate Minority Leader Mac Schneider of Grand Forks and former state representative Jasper Schneider, as well as some candidates who ran unsuccessfully Tuesday, including Astrup, state Sen. Tyler Axness and Todd Reisenauer, all from the Fargo area.

“They were very strong candidates. It was just a case that the voters of North Dakota were not ready to make a change yet,” Valeu said.

A strong economy like North Dakota’s tends to benefit the incumbent party, and Flohrs said the business climate and “common sense regulations” created by Republican leadership has allowed the entire state to prosper.

“Until that stops, there’s no reason to change what’s working,” he said.

Legislative races took place Tuesday in the North Dakota’s 24 odd-numbered districts.

Heading into the election, Republicans controlled 20 of the 24 Senate seats up for grabs and 39 of the 48 House seats on the ballot.

In the Senate races, 16 Republican incumbents and four Democratic incumbents were re-elected to four-year terms. The lone incumbent to fall was Sitte, who lost to Oban by a 13-point margin.

Three Republican senators - Stanley Lyson of Williston and Spencer Berry and Tony Grindberg, both of Fargo - didn’t seek re-election. But the GOP maintained control of those seats with victories by Brad Bekkedahl in District 1, Jon Casper in District 27 and Kyle Davison in District 41.

Of the 48 House seats decided Tuesday, 32 Republicans and four Democrats held onto their seats. The only incumbents to lose were Grande and District 45’s Gruchalla.

Republican Rep. Joe Heilman didn’t seek a second term in District 45, one of six GOP House members not to run for re-election. Republicans won all of those seats, in addition to the District 25 seat vacated by the July 18 death of Rep. John Wall, R-Wahpeton. Likewise, Democrats retained control of three seats where their representatives didn’t seek re-election.

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