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Published March 28 2010

Dems vow to find viable AG candidate

North Dakota Democrats don’t yet have a candidate for state attorney general but vow they’ll find one soon.

Attorney general and tax commissioner were the only two seats where Democrats did not have a declared candidate going into this weekend’s state convention. Cynthia Kaldor was endorsed as the Democrats’ tax commissioner candidate Friday evening.

A candidate endorsement for attorney general was expected Saturday morning but never happened because the party did not yet have a candidate to even nominate.

“We’ve had several people express interest,” Democratic NPL-Party Chairman Mark Schneider said Saturday evening. “We’re disappointed, of course, that one didn’t come through today to complement the excellent slate of candidates we do have for every other office, but we will find a quality candidate.”

Convention delegates gave the Democratic-NPL Party’s executive committee the authority to endorse a party candidate, once there is one. Candidates for this year’s election must file by April 9.

A Democratic candidate would face GOP incumbent Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem in November.

The excitement and enthusiasm exhibited by Democrats throughout the convention could inspire a party member to step up for the race, Democratic-NPL Executive Director Joe Aronson said.

“It’s tough to find a lot of attorneys that want to take time out of their practice to commit to a race like this,” Aronson said. “It’s a small, tight-knit legal community out here, and folks want to watch out for their business, so taking on a longtime incumbent who’s relatively popular – that’s a tall order.”

Meanwhile during Saturday’s convention, delegates were motivated – and entertained – through speeches given by Democratic Party activist Paul Begala and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Begala, who gave the keynote address Saturday afternoon, said he’s optimistic for Democrats’ chances this year, despite that midterm elections historically tend to favor the party out of power.

“I love our odds in this fight,” Begala said.

Begala and many others Saturday praised the passage of the recently enacted health care reform legislation – a recurring topic during this weekend’s Democratic-NPL state convention in Fargo.

“We have so much to celebrate this week,” Begala said.

Klobuchar also mentioned health care reform, but spent most of her speech at the convention banquet broadly addressing the various pieces of legislation North Dakota’s Democratic delegation helped pass this session, such as the jobs bill.

Klobuchar encouraged the Democrats to continue their enthusiasm from the state convention throughout the election season.

“I want you to take this energy out there … and get us a U.S. senator that’s a Democrat and re-elect Earl Pomeroy to the House of Representatives,” she said to broad applause and cheers from the audience.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541