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Taylor raises $90K for ag commissioner race: Goehring trails cattle rancher in campaign funds

BISMARCK — In the race for North Dakota agriculture commissioner, Democrat Ryan Taylor collected more than $90,000 in campaign contributions after entering the race in March but was still outraised by Republican incumbent Doug Goehring during the first four months of 2014.

Candidates for statewide, legislative and judicial offices were required to file their pre-primary disclosure reports with the secretary of state’s office by the end of the day Friday. The statements cover the contribution period from Jan. 1 to May 1.

Taylor, a cattle rancher and former state senator from Towner, started the year with $107 and raised $90,492 in the roughly seven weeks after announcing his candidacy March 14.

Goehring, a Menoken farmer who was appointed agriculture commissioner in 2009 and elected to the post in 2010, began the year with $55,494 in campaign funds and raised $105,895 in the first four months.

Goehring ended the period with $148,998 in cash on hand, about $65,000 more than Taylor.

Both parties are pumping resources into the race in hopes of winning an office that not only oversees the state’s largest industry but also has a coveted spot on the North Dakota Industrial Commission, which regulates the state’s booming oil and gas industry.

Chad Oban, executive director of the state Democratic-NPL Party, said Taylor’s ability to raise that amount of money in a short period of time “shows how excited people are about his candidacy and how excited they are to bring some balance to the Industrial Commission and some change to the ag department.” The Industrial Commission currently consists of three Republicans: Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Goehring and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.

Oban also noted that Taylor raised $35,858 in contributions of $200 or less, more than triple the $14,645 raised by Goehring in the same category.

“The grassroots support is clearly on Ryan’s side here,” he said.

North Dakota GOP Party Director Jason Flohrs said it’s just one report and “you can’t tell too much from it.”

“We’ve had a lot of candidates that have been in the race for a long time, so I think some of those folks giving those smaller contributions have given them to others as well, so you’ll see (Goehring) bring that (total) up,” he said.

Flohrs said the strong support shown for Goehring and other GOP candidates is “a sign of the job they’ve done that people are out supporting them financially, and they’ll turn around and do that at the ballot box, too.”

In the other statewide races:

- Secretary of State Al Jaeger was outraised by his Democratic challenger, former state lawmaker April Fairfield of Bismarck. Jaeger received $5,700 in contributions during the first four months of 2014 and ended the period with $3,642 in cash on hand, while Fairfield raised $10,254 and didn’t spend any of it.

- State Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger, who started the year with $132,818, raised another $34,920 by May 1 and had $143,863 in his war chest. Democrat Jason Astrup, a Fargo attorney, raised $14,742 and ended the period with $10,082 in cash.

- Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk received $42,730 and had an ending balance of $70,214. As of 5 p.m. Friday, the secretary of state’s website didn’t list the statement from his Democratic opponent, Fargo businessman Todd Reisenauer.

- In the other PSC race, current Commissioner Julie Fedorchak raised $29,044 and ended the period with $88,037. State Sen. Tyler Axness, D-Fargo, raised $22,158 and had an ending balance of $13,910.

- In the race for attorney general, Stenehjem raised $7,950 and had an ending balance of $232,148, while Democratic challenger Kiara Kraus-Parr, a Grand Forks attorney, raised $4,723 and didn’t spend any of it.

Mike Nowatzki

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