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Effort to recall Valley City rep halted; he'll face reelection anyway in 2022

The recall proponents would have needed to gather 1,764 signatures from eligible District 24 voters by July, but North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger told Forum News Service they had not turned in any petitions to his office.

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Rep. Dwight Kiefert, R-Valley City, speaks on the floor of the North Dakota House in 2015. Tom Stromme / Bismarck Tribune
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BISMARCK — A group of Valley City conservatives aiming to recall North Dakota GOP Rep. Dwight Kiefert will get what they wanted without turning in a single signed petition.

Despite winning reelection last year, Kiefert will have to run again in 2022 to keep his seat because a redistricting plan approved by lawmakers last week added a third incumbent representative to his district. If all decide to run again, it would be a three-man race between Kiefert, Cole Christensen and Sebastian Ertelt for two seats.

North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger announced Thursday, Nov. 18, that he is pulling his authorization of the Kiefert recall effort because lawmakers cannot be recalled if an election in their district is less than a year away.

The recall effort beginning in July, led by District 24 GOP Treasurer Shane Anderson, came several months after the local party censured Kiefert over his vote to remove former Dickinson Republican Rep. Luke Simons from the House for alleged sexual harassment.

Simons' defenders say he was owed due process, but more than two-thirds of his colleagues, most of them Republican, voted to oust the ultra-conservative lawmaker over his alleged inappropriate behavior, which included "creepy" comments to female legislators and staffers.

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Kiefert has called the recall campaign against him "a joke" and said he doesn't regret his vote to expel Simons, who he called "a perpetrator." The farmer and contractor considers himself a staunch conservative and said in July that the recall push from the far-right fringe of the local party would only help him win reelection.

The recall proponents would have needed to gather 1,764 signatures from eligible District 24 voters by July, but Jaeger told Forum News Service they had not turned in any petitions to his office.

Voters first elected Kiefert in 2012 and reelected him as recently as 2020 with more than 29% of the vote in a four-way race.

Jeremy Turley is a Bismarck-based reporter for Forum News Service, which provides news coverage to publications owned by Forum Communications Company.
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