After Gardner Withdraws, Incumbent Secretary of State Al Jaeger Announces Run as an Independent

Secretary of State Al Jaeger gestures while testifying on a bill to designate the capitol's Memorial Hall into state statute with that official name. Jaeger was testifying in front of the the House political subdivisions committee. TOM STROMME/Tribune

UPDATE: The Grand Forks Herald confirms that Jaeger is running as an independent.

I just finished a radio interview with North Dakota Republican Party chairman Rick Berg and we spoke about the situation with former Secretary of State candidate Will Gardner from this weekend.

Gardner withdrew from the race after a 2006 conviction for window peeping was made public. He’d defeated long-time Republican incumbent Al Jaeger for the NDGOP convention endorsement earlier this year.

Berg told me that while Gardner will be on the primary ballot in June, he can actually decline the nomination after the vote and avoid putting his name on the general election ballot. Berg said Gardner is expected to do that.

He also told me that Jaeger is expected to make an announcement this afternoon. He wouldn’t say what that announcement is, but it’s my strong impression from the conversation that Jaeger is back in the race.

If so, based on the interview with Berg, I’d expect that Jaeger will file to run as an independent in the general election. If Gardner declines the nomination, that would mean there would be no Republican candidate at all. There would be Josh Boschee for the Democrats, Roland Riemers for the Libertarians, and Jaeger as an independent.

Jaeger has been winning statewide elections in North Dakota for a long time. His big problem this time, though, is that his own party decided to go with someone else earlier this year. That someone else turned out to be flawed to the point where he’s no longer on the ballot, but Jaeger is still going to need to explain why his fellow Republicans made that decision in the first place.

I’ll update this post as I learn more. I’ll post the audio of my interview with Berg later this afternoon when it’s available.

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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