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Former North Dakota Secretary of State James Kusler dies at 73

Kusler is the only Democrat to serve as North Dakota's secretary of state, according to the North Dakota Democratic-NPL party.

James Kusler. Photo from Barbot Funeral Home website.
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BISMARCK — Former Secretary of State James Kusler, who held that position from 1989 to 1993, died on Sunday, Nov. 7.

Kusler is the only Democrat to serve as North Dakota's secretary of state, according to the North Dakota Democratic-NPL party.

"As the only Dem-NPLer to serve as Secretary of State to-date, Jim always put the needs of North Dakotans first and foremost during his time in office, with passion, energy, and a knack for working across the aisle," Tyler Hogan, Democratic-NPL party executive director, said in a statement. "The Dem-NPL mourns the loss of our dear friend, and we extend our deepest condolences to the Kusler family."

The former secretary of state grew up on a farm near Beulah, North Dakota, about 80 miles northwest of Bismarck, according to his obituary. Kusler served as a research and information assistant under former Gov. Arthur Link from 1978 to 1981. He then ran for a state senate seat in 1983 and served in that role for four years.

He was then elected as North Dakota's first and only Democratic secretary of state.


"Jim was a very conscientious legislator and Secretary of State. He worked hard to bring the Secretary of State’s office into the 21st century," former State Sen. Aaron Krauter said in a statement.

During his later years, Kusler worked as an energy specialist in the Killdeer oil patch and then focused his energy on improving his family farm near Beulah, where he also built a new house, according to his obituary.

"Jim Kusler was a dear friend and a dedicated public servant. He loved North Dakota’s people and our history. May he Rest In Peace," former North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad said in a statement.

Readers can reach reporter Michelle Griffith, a Report for America corps member, at

Michelle (she/her, English speaker) is a Bismarck-based journalist for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and Report for America, a national service organization that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered topics and communities.
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