BISMARCK – The North Dakota Libertarian Party has endorsed candidates for statewide offices and elected a new party chairman, but it still needs a candidate to capture at least 5 percent of the vote in the 2016 governor's race so they don't have to collect signatures to maintain their ballot status.
The 50-plus party members who attended the statewide convention Saturday at the Baymont Inn in Mandan endorsed:
• Robert "Jack" Seaman of Fargo for U.S. House.
• Robert Marquette of Fargo for U.S. Senate.
• Joshua Voytek of Fargo for lieutenant governor.
• Nick Bata of Fargo for insurance commissioner.
• Tom Skadeland of Mayville for Public Service Commission.
• Roland Riemers of Grand Forks for state auditor.
Seaman, who received 5.8 percent of the vote in his unsuccessful bid for the U.S. House last year, said he will consider changing races and running for governor if the party can't find a strong candidate for the spot being vacated by Gov. Jack Dalrymple, who isn't seeking a second full term.
The November 2014 election was the first time a Libertarian candidate garnered at least 5 percent of the vote in the race for secretary of state, attorney general or governor, earning the party's candidates an automatic spot on next year's statewide ballot.
To maintain that ballot eligibility, the Libertarian candidate for governor must also capture at least 5 percent in November 2016 - otherwise, the party will have to collect at least 7,000 signatures.
"We need to focus on that race," Seaman said, adding the party is in talks with several people who are interested in the governor's race but not ready to commit.
The party also plans to endorse a candidate for state treasurer at a later date.
Convention attendees elected Anthony Mangnall of Fargo as the new state party chairman. He replaces Riemers, who held the role for about four years.
"I just think we were ready for a fresh direction," Seaman said. "Tony brings a lot of social media, IT knowledge, things of that nature. He's a young guy, he's got his finger on the pulse of how to communicate with young voters, and that's what we really need."
Mangnall, a 34-year-old television producer for Rush Street Productions in Fargo, had the best showing of any Libertarian in last year's election, receiving 6.4 percent of the vote for state tax commissioner.
"I'd like to update the party, give it a modern appeal, leverage some of the technology that's out there to get our message out there," he said, adding, "Right now what you're seeing is such a surge of young, passionate people coming on board that see the failure of large government."