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Published March 27 2010

Democratic convention: Kaldor's decision goes down to the wire

The Democrats’ nominee for North Dakota tax commissioner didn’t decide to be a candidate until about 9 a.m. Friday.

Less than eight hours later, Cynthia Kaldor took to the stage to accept the Democratic-NPL Party’s endorsement of her candidacy during the state convention Friday in Fargo.

“It’s just too important not to have a viable candidate,” Kaldor said of the position.

Kaldor’s last-minute candidacy was kept under wraps until just prior to her nomination, with several delegates not aware of whom the possible nominee might be.

Going into the state convention, Democrats had declared candidates in all races except tax commissioner and attorney general.

The attorney general nomination will be decided this morning, and, as of Friday evening, it was still unknown who the party’s candidate might be.

Kaldor, of Mayville, is a businesswoman, former middle- and high school teacher, and former member of the North Dakota Board of Higher Education,

She also is the wife of state Rep. Lee Kaldor, a former gubernatorial candidate, and she’s so far the only woman on the Democratic-NPL ticket.

Kaldor challenges Republican incumbent Cory Fong for the seat.

She said her varied career experience will be her advantage in the race and pledged transparency, leadership and sensible tax policy, if she’s elected.

“We need to be able to trust that the Office of Tax Commissioner is ensuring fairness and bringing leadership, where needed,” Kaldor said. “I promise I will bring trust and active leadership to the office.”

Earlier Friday, unanimous endorsements also were given to the party’s unopposed nominees for public service commissioner, secretary of state and ag commissioner.

During his acceptance speech, Public Service Commission candidate Brad Crabtree fought back against recent criticism from GOP incumbent Kevin Cramer, who has accused Crabtree of being a “left-wing extreme environmentalist.”

“His brazen partisanship, his complete lack of decorum and his intemperate and unsubstantiated attacks demonstrate personal qualities that are inappropriate for regulatory office,” Crabtree said. “You all deserve better. North Dakota deserves better.”

Crabtree said he has the career experience in energy policy that Cramer does not, making him a better candidate for the commission seat.

Representing a new generation of North Dakota Democratic leadership, Secretary of State candidate Corey Mock, 25, pledged innovation and transparency, if he’s elected.

“Our state government is not keeping up with the state and ingenuity of the people of North Dakota,” Mock said in his enthusiastic acceptance speech. “(GOP incumbent) Al Jaeger has been keeping the state of North Dakota in low gear for too long. It’s time we shift into high gear.”

Meanwhile, state House Minority Leader Merle Boucher accepted the party’s endorsement for ag commissioner in an animated speech that defended Democratic ideals against conservative attacks.

“We, as a party and our people in Washington, have fought long and hard and endured unmerciful criticism and threats by people who claim to be righteous,” Boucher said. “I’ll say this: We believe in the things that are important for people.”

Online blog

The Forum’s live blog from the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Convention resumes at 8:30 a.m. today. Follow along throughout the day at www.inforum.com/pages/live.

Today’s lineup

- Endorsements for attorney general, U.S. Senate and U.S. House

- Keynote address by Democratic activist Paul Begala

- Tribute to retiring North Dakota U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan

- Banquet speech by Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541