ND Democrats leave 15 legislative races without a candidate


RACES ARE ON: The deadline for candidates wishing to be on North Dakota’s June primary ballot was Monday afteroon at 4.

By Rob Port | Watchdog.org North Dakota Bureau

BISMARCK, N.D. — Democrats are leaving more than a dozen legislative contests across the state unchallenged, despite a last-minute scramble to place candidates in races.

The deadline for candidates wishing to be on North Dakota’s June primary ballot was Monday afternoon at 4.

As late as 24 hours before the deadline, Democrats still had dozens of legislative races left to fill, according to a Watchdog analysis of campaign announcements and official filings at the Secretary of State’s office, while Republicans had candidates in every race but six. In the final hours, Democrats were able to add 10 candidates, including several in legislative districts covering the state’s Bakken oil fields.

Previously Democrats, who have already made oil impact a major part of their narrative for this election cycle, had left a full slate of Republican candidates in those districts unchallenged.

Ultimately, Democrats are leaving 15 of the state’s 72 legislative races on the ballot without a candidate. Republicans are leaving six.

Candidate recruitment has been a struggle for Democrats this season. Their candidate for U.S. House, state Sen. George Sinner, missed multiple self-set deadlines for announcing a challenge to Republican incumbent Kevin Cramer before finally announcing his campaign in mid-March.

A block of 15 seats handed over to Republicans without a challenge adds to an already steep climb for Democrats to retake control of either house in the Legislature. In the state House, Republicans control more than 75 percent of the chamber with a 71-23 seat advantage over Democrats. The picture is equally daunting for the Senate, where Democrats hold just 14 of 47 seats.

Here’s how the legislative races break down for Democrats and Republicans in 2014:


  • 57 candidates
  • 10 incumbents
  • 15 races unchallenged
  • Four oil patch races unchallenged
  • Seven districts without a full slate of House and Senate candidates. including three districts with no candidates at all


  • 66 candidates
  • 49 incumbents
  • Six races unchallenged
  • Zero oil patch races unchallenged
  • Two districts with no candidates

You can reach Rob Port at rport@watchdog.org