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Late rush of Democrats adds to legislative contests: 19 districts have both parties on ballot

BISMARCK — A late rush of Democrats filing for office means North Dakota voters will see contested races in all but five of the 24 legislative districts on the ballot in the June 10 primary election.

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All odd-numbered districts are up for election this year, for a total of 72 seats.

The filing deadline was 4 p.m. Monday, and the list of legislative candidates was finalized Tuesday.

Democrats left seven districts without a full slate of legislative candidates, including three districts with no candidates. Republicans didn’t produce any candidates in two districts.

Republicans currently hold 20 of the 24 Senate seats up for grabs and 39 of the 48 House seats. The Democratic-NPL Party will defend four Senate seats and nine House seats.

Democratic-NPL Party Executive Director Chad Oban said the party had a “heavy lift” in trying to fill 59 non-incumbent spots.

“We were able to fill 44 of our 59, so we’re very excited,” he said.

Republicans enjoy two-thirds majorities in both the House and Senate, giving the party a big advantage heading into the election, North Dakota GOP Executive Director Jason Flohrs said.

“We’ve got a bunch of incumbents running,” he said. “A lot of the new challengers coming in or replacing some of those folks who are retiring this year are absolutely solid candidates.”

Republicans fielded 22 candidates for the 24 Senate seats up for grabs, while Democrats rounded up 20 candidates.

For the 48 House seats open, Democrats have 38 candidates and Republicans have 47 candidates. Some districts have more than two hopefuls from the same party running for the House, but only the top two vote-getters from each party will advance to the November election.

Oban said he thinks Democrats have a “great opportunity” to pick up seats in Cass County with a full slate of candidates and “some exceptional tickets.” And while the party had less success fielding candidates in historically conservative western districts, he believes it has a shot at winning seats there as well because of frustration over how state government has addressed issues facing western North Dakota.

Oban also noted Democrats have 29 women running for legislative seats, compared with 12 on the Republican side.

“We feel like our tickets across the state look a lot more like North Dakota than the Republican ticket does,” he said.

Flohrs said the GOP can point to how the state’s Republican leadership has benefited North Dakota, which has a booming economy and the nation’s lowest unemployment rate and fastest-growing population.

“And that’s really a strong and positive message moving forward,” he said.

Mike Nowatzki

Mike Nowatzki reports for Forum News Service. He can be reached at (701) 255-5607.