« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

Dale Wetzel, Associated Press, Published April 11 2012

Candidate for North Dakota school superintendent withdraws

BISMARCK – A candidate for North Dakota school superintendent abruptly withdrew from the race Wednesday, saying he had changed his mind for personal reasons and because a state GOP official strongly discouraged him from running.

Republican Keith Jacobson, a retired New Salem school administrator, said the North Dakota Republican vice chairman, Jim Poolman, called him shortly after he read a news account that Jacobson had filed nominating petitions Tuesday to seek the superintendent’s job.

North Dakota Republicans voted to support another candidate, Kirsten Baesler of Mandan, during their state convention in Bismarck earlier this month.

Jacobson ran for superintendent of public instruction in 2004, losing to incumbent Democrat Wayne Sanstead.

He said he did not compete for this year’s endorsement in part because he expected state Rep. David Monson, R-Osnabrock, to win it. Baesler defeated Monson, 863-725, getting 54 percent of the delegate votes.

Monson, a former House speaker and assistant GOP majority leader, is a retired teacher and school administrator. Baesler is an assistant principal in the Bismarck schools and president of the Mandan School Board.

“I really had expected Dave Monson to get the nomination. I support Dave,” Jacobson said. When that did not happen, Jacobson said, “I thought, maybe I’m the most qualified person here, with all my background in administration.”

It takes petition signatures from 300 North Dakota voters to run for superintendent of public instruction. Jacobson turned in his petitions Tuesday afternoon, and got a call soon after from Poolman.

Jacobson declined to discuss what was said. He and Poolman spoke about the race several times in the past few days, Jacobson said, which Poolman confirmed.

“I couldn’t care less if (Poolman) calls me again or not,” Jacobson said. “I’m all done talking to the Republican Party.”

Poolman said he and Jacobson talked about “the political implications for the race” if Jacobson got in.

At present, Baesler and two Democrats, Max Laird and Tracy Potter, will be competing in the nonpartisan June 12 primary. The top two finishers will run against each other in the November general election.

Republicans hope Laird, who won the support of Democratic convention delegates last month, and Potter, a former Bismarck Democratic state senator and U.S. Senate candidate, will split the Democratic vote and help assure Baesler a fall campaign spot. Laird has run two statewide campaigns and Potter one, while Baesler is competing in her first.

“I think if you start splitting up the vote four ways, it becomes more difficult that way to gauge any sort of outcome,” Poolman said Wednesday.

He called Jacobson “a friend, and we have been friends since he ran eight years ago.” Poolman said he “didn’t think it was inappropriate” to discourage Jacobson from running.