Despite Supposed Focus On Legislature Democrats Have Just 37 Percent Of Candidate Slots Filled


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.)

Next weekend North Dakota’s Republicans and Democrats will hold their statewide conventions. In a preview of the events the Associated Press questioned Robert Haider, the executive director for the Democrats, on why his party has no candidates for most of the statewide races (they have nobody running for Treasurer, Insurance Commissioner, Public Service Commission, nor U.S. House and Senate races).

“He downplayed the lack of candidates to oppose Republicans and said party’s priority has been to focus on state legislative races,” AP reporter James MacPherson writes.

First, that’s a dumb strategy. Democrats are going to have a tough time getting people out to vote for legislative candidates when they don’t have any exciting, competitive statewide candidates (I’m sorry, Marvin Nelson, you don’t fill that role).

Second, there continues to be little evidence that Democrats are having much success in the Legislative races despite the focus they’re claiming

In the 2016 election cycle North Dakota’s even-numbered legislative districts are on the ballot. There are 23 districts in play, with one Senator and two Representatives to be elected from each one. The deadline for getting candidates on the June ballot is April 11, or 16 days from today.

According to filings with the Secretary of State’s office, in the House races:

  • Republicans have 28 candidates for 46 races, up four from March 18.
  • Democrats have just 18 candidates, up three.
  • Libertarians have just one candidate.

Of note in the House races is that it appears as though Republicans will have at least two competitive primary races. In District 36 (Dickinson area) incumbent Alan Fehr has filed to run on the June primary ballot despite losing his district’s convention endorsement to Luke Simons.

In District 28 long-time lawmaker Bill Kretschmar – currently 84 years old and having served in the state House since 1973 (with just one four year gap) – has filed to be on the June ballot after losing his district’s endorsement to Barton Schott.

Kretschmar has gone that route before and won, in 2012 I believe.

Democrats, who are struggling to find even one candidate for each race, seem to have no competitive races.

The Libertarians have said they’ll have a “half dozen” or so candidates for the Legislature this cycle, which is unusual for them as they typically stick to the statewide races.

On the Senate side:

  • Republicans have 14 candidates for 23 races, up two.
  • Democrats have 8 candidates, also up two.
  • There are no Libertarians filed to run for the state Senate

Over all, Republicans have more than 60 percent of their Legislative candidate slots filled for 2016, and most of the seats still open have Republican incumbents who are more than likely running again.

Democrats, meanwhile, have just 37 percent of their candidate slots filled.

And that, again, is after the party supposedly has been focusing so hard on the Legislature that they haven’t put any time into recruiting statewide candidates beyond the governor/lieutenant governor race.

I know a partly flak like Haider can’t just come out and tell us that things are going terribly for his party but, let’s face it. Things are going terribly.

Here’s the most recent list of candidates:

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