Democrats fail to tap candidates for 2 statewide offices

March 26, 2022 GMT

MINOT, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota Democrats at their convention on Saturday finished endorsements for several statewide candidates but the party failed to recruit contenders for secretary of state and tax commissioner.

Democrats at the convention in Minot endorsed University of Jamestown engineering professor Katrina Christiansen for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican John Hoeven, who is seeing a third term. Democrats on Saturday also voted to back Mark Haugen of Bismarck for the U.S. House of Representatives. Haugen is a University of Mary graduate adviser and has long worked as a paramedic.

He will face GOP U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong, who is seeking a second term.

Convention delegates also backed former Marine and Velva native Trygve Hammer for the seat on the public service commission held by Republican Sheri Haugen-Hoffart, who was appointed to replace Brian Kroshus when Kroshus was appointed to be state tax commissioner. Haugen-Hoffart is running for the remainder of Kroshus’ four-year term.

ADVERTISEMENT

Democrats endorsed Grand Forks lawyer Timothy Lamb for attorney general, the state’s top law enforcement officer. Republican Gov. Doug Burgum appointed former U.S. attorney and lieutenant governor Drew Wrigley to serve the remainder of the term held by Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, who died in January. Wrigley is running for the seat.

Democrats on Friday endorsed Melanie Moniz, a member of the Three Affiliated Tribes, for the second open seat on the public service commission currently held by Julie Fedorchak, who has been on the panel since 2012.

The three-member PSC regulates gas and electric utilities, coal mining, land reclamation, grain elevators and auctioneers. Much of its workload has involved determining locations for oil and natural gas pipelines, natural gas processing factories, and wind energy projects.

Delegates on Friday backed Bismarck attorney Fintan Dooley for state agriculture commissioner, a position Doug Goehring has held since 2009.

Convention endorsements give a favored candidate a guaranteed spot on the June 14 primary ballot and party support that includes access to lists of previous Democratic campaign donors. Endorsements don’t protect a candidate from a primary challenge, but they are rare within the Democratic party.

Patrick Hart, chairman of the Democratic party, said activists would continue to recruit candidates for secretary of state and tax commissioner prior to the April 11 filing deadline.

About 260 delegates attended the convention Saturday, including 102 who participated online.

North Dakota Republicans have controlled both chambers of the Legislature since 1994 and hold every statewide office.

The state GOP convention begins Friday in Bismarck. Party officials said they are expecting up to 2,000 delegates.