ND Democrats fall short on delegates and legislative candidates


By Rob Port | Watchdog.org North Dakota Bureau

ENDORSED CANDIDATE: Fargo attorney Jason Astrup at the North Dakota Democratic NPL state convention in Fargo where he was endorsed to run for Tax Commissioner. Photo via the Dem-NPL Facebook page.

FARGO, N.D. — North Dakota Democrats touted energy and youth at their statewide convention this year, but their numbers were wanting.

The party fell hundreds short of filling all of its available delegate slots, and with the primary ballot deadline looming Democrats still have dozens of legislative races to fill.

The party had 750 slots for delegates available. On the opening day of the convention Friday the party seated just 344 delegates. On Saturday, which saw the convention climax after an address from keynote speaker Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minnesota, the party seated just 460 delegates.

The Democrats couldn’t even count on all of their statewide candidates showing up. Grand Forks attorney Kiara Kraus-Parr, who is running for attorney general against incumbent Republican Wayne Stenehjem, accepted the convention’s endorsement by way of a video message.

In all, Democrats endorsed six candidates for statewide office. In addition to Kraus-Parr, the party endorsed Fargo businessman Todd Reisenauer and Fargo state Sen. Tyler Axness to run for seats on the Public Service Commission, Fargo state Sen. George Sinner for U.S. House, former Jamestown-area legislator April Fairfield for secretary of state, and Fargo attorney Jason Astrup for tax commissioner.

Democrats are still looking to fill many legislative races.

There are 72 legislative seats from odd-numbered districts on the ballot this year, including 24 in the Senate and 48 in the House. According to a Watchdog.org analysis of candidate filings on the secretary of state website, media announcements of candidacy, and interviews with local party officials, Democrats have 32 candidates for those seats, including 10 incumbents.

Democrats have 40 races for which to find candidates, including 12 of 15 seats in districts covering the state’s oil patch where the party is seeking to campaign on oil impacts.

Republicans currently have 61 legislative candidates announced, including a full slate in all five oil patch counties, leaving 11 open races so far.

Meanwhile the filing deadline to run on a partisan ticket in the June primary election is looming. All candidates seeking nomination must be filed by April 7.

You can reach Rob Port at rport@watchdog.org.