MINOT, N.D. — In the battle over who gets to decide who will fill one of North Dakota House District 8’s two seats in the Legislature, I thought Gov. Doug Burgum had the strong legal case.
Today, Nov. 24, the state Supreme Court disagreed, finding in a unanimous decision that the vacancy can be filled using the statutory process created by the Legislature. That means the local NDGOP district committee’s appointment will take the seat.
The district committee has already chosen incumbent Rep. Jeff Dezler, and that’s a real disservice to the men and women of District 8 who voted to reject Delzer back in June when he was defeated in the primary by Republicans Dave Andahl, whose death in early October created this situation, and Dave Nehring.
Burgum’s argument was that the Legislature’s existing statutes for filling a legislative vacancy don’t apply because those laws were clearly written for a vacancy that would occur with a sitting lawmaker. That wasn’t the case with Andahl. He died before he could be elected.
When there is no other method in the law for filling a vacancy in elected office, the state constitution requires that the governor make an appointment, which was the authority Burgum was seeking to exercise.