BISMARCK — Despite a bumpy start -- including losing the GOP nomination race to a challenger who later dropped out -- Al Jaeger held on in the three-way North Dakota secretary of state race.

Jaeger, running as an independent candidate, had 47 percent of the vote, with all 424 precincts reporting in incomplete, unofficial results on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Democrat Josh Boschee followed with 39 percent of the vote, followed by Michael Coachman, also running as an independent, with 13 percent.

In an interview, Jaeger, 74, said this will be his final term as secretary of state, having won eight terms.

“I feel so blessed,” he said. “The people of North Dakota have been very kind to me. I’ve tried to do a good job,” adding that his office has “lots of exciting projects” to complete. “This will be my last term.”

Boschee, in his concession speech, told a Democratic audience in West Fargo, “Our job now is to hold the majority party accountable.”

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Although Jaeger was not the endorsed Republican candidate for the office he first won in 1992, the GOP gave him the party’s official support when he entered as an independent candidate after the Republican nominee, Will Gardner, withdrew from the race amid news reports revealing his arrest years earlier on a “peeping Tom” charge.

The secretary of state is the state’s top election official and handles business registrations, among other duties. The annual salary for the North Dakota secretary of state is $105,770.