Minot Republican, Defeated in the Primary for His House Race, Considers Unusual Independent Run for the Senate

State Rep. Andrew Maragos speaks to fellow Republican Bob Martin.

On primary day last week incumbent state Rep. Andrew Maragos, a Republican from District 3 in Minot, was defeated along with his running mate Alan Walter by two political newcomers named Jeff Hoverson and Bob Paulson.

The vote, as you can see, was close:

This morning I heard a rumor that Maragos might be considering a run as an independent in the general election.

When I first heard that rumor I dismissed it. State law does not allow those defeated on the primary ballot to put their name on the general election ballot. Except, upon closer scrutiny of the law, it turns out those defeated in the primary cannot put their name on the general election ballot for the same office:

Intriguing! I wasn’t aware of this loophole, and when I reached out to Maragos it turns out he really is considering a run.

“After looking at what happened in the district, and the Republican preference was so narrow, you could see that there’s a bit of division there,” Maragos told me this morning.

I’ve had these supporters for years, and they’re indicating they would like me to continue in the process,” he continued. “If I made that decision I could only run in the District Senate race. I’m still considering that. I will probably even circulate petitions and get the signatures, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll file.”

If Maragos is considering this move that must speak to some level of dissatisfaction he has with the candidates on the ballot. Especially since it would put him against incumbent Senator Oley Larsen who Maragos has campaigned alongside in the district in past cycles.

I asked Maragos about that, and he kind of skated around the issue.

“If you talk to the district chair you’ll find that the outcome of the primary preference poll was so much narrower and closer than what was reflected in the endorsing convention,” he told me. “Having been in the process your supporters have expectations. It’s your duty to honor those expectations because they supported you for so long.”

“That’s news to me, I didn’t know,” Larsen told me when I contacted him this morning with the news from Maragos. “I thought after the canvassing committee count and stuff that he was gonna be done.”

“Whatever he wants to do. I would imagine it would start splitting the vote so it might give the Democrat an easier chance to win,” Larsen continued. “When I was looking at the numbers in the primary I did a pretty good shelling.”

Larsen did get quite a few more votes than the Democratic candidate in the District 3 Senate race which is Joseph Nesdahl:

“It’s interesting that he would want to do that,” Larsen told me of Maragos. “I think the 3rd District Republicans, when they endorsed Bob and Jeff, I would imagine they had spoken. If he wanted to run for the Senate I guess he should have put his endorsement there.”

“There is an interesting aspect to this,” Maragos told me at the end of our conversation, acknowledging how unusual this situation is. “There’s never been an independent elected to the Legislature. At least not this century.”

I checked that claim and it’s not 100 percent accurate. By my quick review it seems late as 1938 there was an independent in the Legislature (depending on how you choose to define movements like the Nonpartisan League and the Independent Voters Association with their various affiliations with the two major parties). Suffice it to say that it’s been a while since we’ve had an independent in the Legislature, but not quite a century.

If Maragos wants to get on the ballot he would have to collect a number of signatures equal to 2 percent of District 3’s population but not more than 300 signatures total. Those are due to be submitted 64 days before election day.

He has some time. As of this morning we are 140 days away from the election.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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