Democrats Suffer Absolute Bloodbath in North Dakota’s Legislative Races


TOM STROMME.TribuneRep. Kylie Oversen (D-Grand Forks) urged members to vote in favor of SB 2279 during floor debate on Thursday afternoon.

It was an ugly night for North Dakota Democrats, but that wasn’t entirely unexpected in the statewide races. No credible observer thought any of the Democrats running on the statewide ticket had much of a chance, and indeed they got slaughtered.

Not a single statewide Democrat candidate has over 30 percent of the vote as I write this with over 98 percent of precincts statewide reporting. Their top candidate is Treasurer candidate Tim Mathern who currently has over 29 percent of the vote against Republican incumbent Kelly Schmidt.

The next highest? Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who got just 27.59 percent of the vote against Donald Trump.

But Democrats said at the beginning of this cycle that the Legislature was their focus. Back in March the Associated Press reported that ND Democratic Party executive director Robert Haider “said [the] party’s priority has been to focus on state legislative races.”

If the Democrats did focus on the Legislature it sure didn’t turn up at the ballot box.

The results aren’t official yet (you can see them here), and they could still change, but by my count the Democrats lost big. Their state party chair lost re-election. Their leaders in the House and Senate lost re-election.

There’s spinning it. The Democrats got slaughtered.

Here are the Senate incumbent losses I’m counting for the Democrats:

  • District 4 – Republicans picked up seat with Democratic incumbent not running
  • District 6 – David O’Connell
  • District 16 – Tyler Axness
  • District 18 – Connie Triplett
  • District 20 – Phil Murphy
  • District 42 – Minority Leader Mac Schneider
  • District 46 – George Sinner

Note that the Sinner race was extremely close, with Republican challenger Jim Roers currently leading by just 36 votes, and appears headed to a recount.

Here are the House losses for Democrats:

  • District 4 – Minority Leader Kenton Onstad
  • District 6 – Bob Hunksor
  • District 12 – Jessica Haak
  • District 16 – Ben Hanson
  • District 18 – Republicans pick up one seat, Democratic incumbent didn’t run
  • District 20 – Gail Mooney
  • District 24 – Naomi Muscha
  • District 26 – Bill Amerman
  • District 26 – Jerry Kelsh
  • District 42 – Democratic Party Chairwoman Kylie Oversen
  • District 42 – Republicans picked up seat with Democratic incumbent not running

If all of these results hold, that’s seven incumbents lost for Democrats in the state Senate, and eleven incumbents lost in the state House.

Offsetting those results, however, are Republican losses in District 44 where incumbents Blair Thoreson (House) and Tim Flakoll (Senate) lost. That was a race Democrats poured money into. President Barack Obama himself cut an ad for the District 44 race.

That would leave Democrats with just 13 seats in the state House to 81 seats for Republicans. In the Senate, Democrats would hold just 9 seats to 38 held by Republicans.

Again, those totals may yet shift, and my math may be fuzzy because I’m very tired (feel free to double-check me) but even if we give or take a few seats there’s no question that the Democrats got absolutely slaughtered in legislative races they said they were focusing on.

Wow. Just wow.