BISMARCK – State Treasurer Kelly Schmidt said Wednesday she will seek a fourth term in office and won’t run for governor next year, leaving just one question mark among Republicans who have said they’re considering a gubernatorial bid.
Schmidt said she made the decision a couple weeks ago after conferring with family, former GOP delegates, district chairs and others who told her she would be a good governor but is needed more in the treasurer’s office.
The 53-year-old Mandan resident said she wasn’t discouraged by the prospect of competing for the GOP nomination with other confirmed candidates, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and state Rep. Rick Becker of Bismarck.
“This was about what I felt was best for me and best for our state,” she said.
With Stenehjem scheduled to officially announce his candidacy Tuesday and state Sen. Tom Campbell of Grafton dropping out of the running last week, Fargo businessman Doug Burgum is the only Republican who has expressed interest in the governor’s race but hasn’t announced his decision -- and he’s said it probably won’t come until January.
Among Democrats, former state Agriculture Commissioner Sarah Vogel has said she is mulling a run.
Schmidt was elected in 2004 and re-elected in 2008 and 2012, receiving the largest percentage of the vote among GOP statewide candidates -- 66 percent -- in her most recent win.
She said she does not expect a contested race for the GOP nomination and hasn’t heard of any possible challengers.
“I really believe with the climate we’re about to enter, now is not the time to be training in a new treasurer,” she said.
The state treasurer serves as custodian for more than 400 state funds and is responsible for paying the state’s bills and disbursing tax money to political subdivisions.
Slumping crude oil prices have slowed the pace of revenues flowing into many of those funds, including the more than $3.4 billion Legacy Fund, a voter-approved trust fund for oil taxes that lawmakers can’t tap until 2017. Monthly deposits into the Legacy Fund have plummeted from a peak of nearly $115 million in September 2014 to $36.3 million this month, according to the treasurer’s office.
Schmidt, who is married with four sons and five grandsons, said she’s proud of her accomplishments in the office, including technological advancements, the development of a strategic plan and additional transparency of state funds through updates to the office’s website.
The current annual salary for state treasurer is $96,972.