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Baesler secures ballot spot for superintendent of public instruction

BISMARCK -- Kirsten Baesler appeared to have secured a spot on the November ballot in the superintendent of public instruction race Tuesday, but the race for the second spot remained close at press time.

Baesler of Mandan had an edge with 36,586 votes, or 37.3 percent, in the nonpartisan race with 395 of 426 precincts reporting.

Tracy Potter of Bismarck received 31,552 votes, or 32.3 percent. Max Laird of Bismarck had 29,296 votes, or 30 percent.

The top two vote-getters advance to the November election.

The race was close throughout Tuesday night. While waiting for results at Republican Party headquarters in Bismarck, Baesler said she was confident.

"I'm moving forward, planning for tomorrow to advance to the November election," she said. "I'm grateful for the support that I have."

Potter called the race "exciting" and said he was "pleased to be in the thick of it, despite being outspent dramatically."

Laird said the race was closer than he anticipated.

"It's interesting. It's just an interesting race," he said. "Who'd have thought?"

For the first time since 1980, current Superintendent Wayne Sanstead was not on the ballot after deciding earlier this year to retire.

Baesler won Republican support for the nonpartisan office during the party's convention, while Laird received Democratic support. Potter said he wanted to honor the spirit of the nonpartisan office and did not seek support from the Democratic Party.

The state superintendent serves a four-year term and has an annual salary of $102,868. The salary increases to $105,954 on July 1.