Port: Jamestown Republican's move to Edgeley will set off competition with incumbent Republicans
"Ellendale is actually home to me," he said. "That's where I grew up. My folks still live there."
MINOT, N.D. — Rep. Jim Grueneich, a Republican currently representing District 12 (Jamestown area) in the North Dakota Legislature, is moving with his wife, Naomi, to Edgeley.
"My wife had an opportunity. Kind of a career-changing opportunity. For her, it was the right thing," he told me.
The thing is, Edgeley isn't in District 12. It's in District 28, which already has two incumbent Republicans serving in the state House.
Grueneich says he'll run for the House anyway, setting up a competitive NDGOP primary in that district. "Ultimately, the voters decide," he said.
Rep. Mike Brandenburg and Rep. Jeff Magrum are the two House incumbents in that district, and they've both already announced their re-election campaigns .
It's not clear how much they like each other. A Forum News Service report from May of last year details an incident where Magrum confronted Brandenburg at a meeting of the Emmons County Commission addressing set-back policies for wind turbines. According to the report, Magrum yelled, "Who do you represent?" at Brandenburg, who is an outspoken proponent of wind energy.
"He was screaming. He was out of control," Brandenburg told FNS. Magrum confirmed that law enforcement asked him to sit down.
Magrum objected to Brandenburg, a resident of LaMoure County, being present at a meeting in Emmons County. But District 28, which the two men represent, is enormous and encompasses all of Emmons County and parts of LaMoure.
It is into this dynamic that Grueneich launches his campaign.
I asked why he was challenging incumbent Republicans - the top two vote-getters on the June primary ballot win the nomination - and he disagreed with the idea that he was challenging anybody.
"Obviously, it looks that way," he told me. "I still want to be involved."
Grueneich has old ties to the new territory he'd like to represent. "Ellendale is actually home to me," he said. "That's where I grew up. My folks still live there."
Grueneich was elected to the House in the 2016 election cycle, and his current four-year term in District 12 ends this year. If he wins the primary, he'd be campaigning for a new four-year term in District 28.
Magrum was first elected to the House during the 2016 election.
Brandenburg was first elected to the House for District 26 in 1996 and served until 2002. He was elected to the House again for District 28 in 2004 and has served there since.
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, a North Dakota political blog, is a Forum Communications commentator. Listen to his Plain Talk Podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RobPort.