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Associated Press, Published April 24 2012

Scramble begins for ND legislature candidate in Minot district

BISMARCK – The Republican incumbent didn’t file the paperwork required to get on the ballot. Democrats couldn’t find anyone willing to run.

The result? A legislative district in north Minot will go into the June primary election without a state Senate candidate, and there’s an outside chance that neither party will elect anyone in November.

“It was just a comedy of errors,” Republican state Sen. Karen Krebsbach said Tuesday.

Krebsbach and District 40’s House Republican incumbents, Matt Klein and Robert Frantsvog, did not submit personal financial disclosure statements to Ward County’s auditor ahead of the filing deadline earlier this month. Their filings also lacked sworn statements, which are required by state law, attesting that the three candidates wanted to be on the ballot.

Krebsbach said there was a misunderstanding about whether the needed paperwork had been turned in.

The district’s Democrats thought they had a Senate candidate lined up, but the person withdrew at the last minute, said Louis Pinkerton, a Democratic state House candidate in District 40.

Pinkerton and Sue Olafson, of Minot, will be listed on the primary ballot as the Democratic candidates for the district’s two House seats. The two Republican spots on the ballot, which normally would be filled by Klein and Frantsvog, will be blank.

“It’s kind of surprising how much trouble there is this time around” in recruiting candidates, Pinkerton said Tuesday.

Secretary of State Al Jaeger said Krebsbach, Klein and Frantsvog may still qualify for the November ballot if each can get at least 143 write-in votes – 1 percent of the district’s population – in the June primary. Democrats can use the same provision to put their own Senate candidate on the November ballot, he said.

If neither party can inspire the needed number of write-in votes, candidates would still have the option of petitioning to get on the November ballot as independents, without any party identification, Jaeger said.

Krebsbach said she, Klein and Frantsvog would be distributing information about write-in procedures in the run-up to the June 12 vote.

“If we don’t have that many friends in our district that are willing to go a little extra for us at this time, I don’t think we’d have much success in the general election,” Krebsbach said. “It isn’t an insurmountable amount.”

Both Republicans and Democrats have a handful of vacant spots on their fall legislative tickets, which have 25 state Senate seats and 50 House seats up for election. The balloting is not expected to shift the balance of power in either the House or Senate, where Republicans hold two-thirds majorities.

Republicans have no Senate candidates in District 20, which includes Traill County and chunks of Cass and Grand Forks counties in eastern North Dakota’s Red River Valley, or in District 26, which includes Sargent County and parts of three rural neighboring counties in North Dakota’s southeastern corner. Both districts have Democratic incumbents.

Democrats also have no candidate to challenge incumbent Republican state Sen. Jerry Klein in District 14, which includes Kidder, Wells, Sheridan and Pierce counties and the western half of Benson County in central North Dakota.

Election filings show that Democrats have six House candidate vacancies in four districts, while Republicans have five in four districts.

North Dakota has 47 legislative districts, each of which is represented by a senator and two House members. Typically, the general election features single Republican and Democratic candidates competing for each Senate seat, and two GOP and two Democratic hopefuls fighting for the district’s two House seats. The top two finishers in each House race are elected.