With Flurry Of Last Minute Filings Democrats Leave Just Five Legislative Races Without Candidates


It's cold outside but debate is starting to heat up on agricultural issues in the region's state capitols, including at Bismarck, N.D. Photo taken Jan. 9, 2015, in Bismarck, N.D., at the North Dakota State Capitol. (Forum News Service/Agweek/Mikkel Pates)(Embargo to Jan. 20, 2015, 1 a.m.)

With a flurry of filings at the deadline, North Dakota Democrats managed to improve their legislative candidate count from last cycle.

In the 2014 elections Democrats left fifteen legislative races without a candidate. This cycle the Democrats managed to leave just five: three in the state Senate and two in the state House.

Republicans left just one race without a candidate. In District 20, a Democrat-controlled area, the Republicans are running just one candidate for the House.

The Libertarians, meanwhile, added a couple of legislative candidates. They have two candidates running for the state House in the Fargo/West Fargo area, and one running for the state Senate in Grand Forks.

The Republicans also have some competitive races. In District 28, which stretches from rural Burleigh County to the South Dakota border and east as far as Edgley, Republicans have four House candidates for two races. Incumbents Mike Brandenburg and Bill Kretschmar are being challenged by Jeffrey Magrum and Barton Schott.

It’s the same situation in District 14 (Rugby), where incumbents Jon Nelson and Robin Weisz are being challenged by Albert Krueger and Dennis Fred. Fred is actually the district chair for the Republicans in that area.

District 14 will also have a competitive race for the state Senate with incumbent Jerry Klein being challenged by Glen Baltrusch.

For the Democrats, this is becoming a routine strategy, finding candidates at the last minute well after both their statewide and local endorsing conventions. Yesterday we saw a similar flurry of last minute candidates to fill out their statewide slots (they still left the Auditor race without a challenger), and it’s really no different at the local level.

Perhaps it’s less obvious at the local level that a given candidate is just a warm body intended to help avoid an embarrassingly large count of empty races for the party, but it’s hard to see this as a winning strategy over all. Campaigning is hard work, and typically candidates who get pushed into a race at the last minute aren’t very good at it.

UPDATE: A reader emails: “Did you note that the Libertarian candidates have the potential to play spoiler? They are running in districts were the incumbent GOP has a strong Democrat challenger or the GOP has fielded a strong challenger to an incumbent Democrat? Pretty good bet that the LP and GOP will split their vote and help the Dem.”

Interesting point. I guess we’ll see.

Here’s the full and final list of legislative candidates:

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