Podcast: Jaeger Talks About Re-Entering Secretary of State Race After Gardner Campaign Implodes

ND Secretary of State Al Jaeger leaves the podium after his speech seeking the Republican nomination for the office he's held since 1993. Jaeger lost the nomination to Will Gardner at Saturday's convention. Eric Hylden / Forum News Service

“When that news broke it changed everything.”

That’s what incumbent Secretary of State Al Jaeger told me on my radio show today. He was referring to news that erstwhile Republican Secretary of State candidate Will Gardner, who had defeated Jaeger for the NDGOP’s endorsement earlier this month, was stopping his campaign amid scandal.

Jaeger said he had no knowledge of Gardner’s 2006 conviction for disorderly conduct – specifically peeping into the windows of a girl’s dormitory at North Dakota State University with, according to a police report, his pants undone – prior to it being reported in the media. “Any speculation to the contrary is just speculation,” Jaeger told me.

“By the end of the year we’re going to be the best in the nation,” Jaeger said of his current efforts to modernize his office. “I don’t know what either one of them would have done come January” to improve the office, he continued referring to Gardner and Boschee both of whom have criticized him for not embracing up to date technology and methods.

Jaeger announced this week, after declining to place himself on the June primary ballot, that he’d be gathering the signatures necessary to put himself on the general election ballot as an independent. Gardner is expected to win the June primary by default, but to keep his name off the general election ballot by officially declining the nomination.

I asked Jaeger about how he’ll rebut the inevitable argument from Democratic Secretary of State candidate Josh Boschee that even Republicans (as evidence by the vote of delegates at the convention) feel it’s time for someone new in that office.

“By the end of the year we’re going to be the best in the nation,” Jaeger said of his current efforts to modernize his office. “I don’t know what either one of them would have done come January” to improve the office, he continued referring to Gardner and Boschee both of whom have criticized him for not embracing up to date technology and methods.

He said he has spoken to Gardner since the scandal erupted. He said the former candidate called him over the weekend to tell him he was pulling out. “If he hadn’t been kind enough to give me a heads up I would have been blindsided,” Jaeger told me.

I also spoke with Fargo City Commissioner Tony Gehrig whose call to eliminate special property tax assessments in Fargo has set off a firestorm in the race for two open commission seats in that city. Gehrig says he’s glad he got the debate started.

“Every time we had a debate it was about how to grow government,” he said of past city commission races. “This is the first time we’ve had a debate about how to reduce the government’s impact o people. I’m going to take some credit for that.”

Here’s the full audio of today’s show. If you can’t listen live from 12-2pm on weekdays, get the podcast.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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