BISMARCK -- Sarah Vogel has announced that she will not seek the Democratic-NPL endorsement for governor, leaving the field wide open to Republicans vying to hold the seat.

Vogel, a former agriculture commissioner who had formed an exploratory committee and attended fundraisers around North Dakota, said she was better able to advance her causes as a lawyer and through civic engagement.

“After careful consideration, research and meeting with everyday North Dakotans across the state, I have decided not to run for governor,” she said in a statement released Thursday night. “I believe I am in a better position to serve the people of North Dakota from the private sector -- as an attorney, a member of many statewide, regional and national boards, and as an advocate for once again making North Dakota a safe and healthy place to live and raise a family.”

Vogel, who was twice-elected agriculture commissioner and served from 1989 to 1996, practices law in Bismarck. She thanked her supporters and said it was humbling to receive encouragement to run.

Vogel was the only Democrat who publicly expressed interest in running for governor, and leaves them without a candidate as the campaign is heating up.

In a phone interview late Thursday with Forum News Service, Vogel said her decision not to run had "been bubbling for a while" as she thought about the realities of running a modern campaign.

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Republicans have a three-way race for the nomination, with Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, Fargo entrepreneur and downtown developer Doug Burgum, and Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck, vying.