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Fargo area legislative candidates set for June primary

Although Republicans hold a supermajority in both the North Dakota House of Representatives and Senate, the Fargo area serves as one of the few battlegrounds where Democrats have proven competitive.

North Dakota State Capitol Building
North Dakota State Capitol.
Forum News Service file photo
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BISMARCK — The names of 36 Fargo area legislative candidates are locked in ahead of the June 14 primary election, but Cass County voters won't have any hard decisions in the intraparty races.

Normally, only about half of the seats in the North Dakota Legislature are on the ballot each election cycle, but due to the decennial redistricting process, 98 of the 141 seats are up for grabs this year, including 24 in Cass County.

Although Republicans hold a supermajority in both the state House of Representatives and Senate, the Fargo area serves as one of the few battlegrounds where Democrats have proven competitive.

A total of 19 Republicans and 17 Democrats are running for the Legislature in the Fargo area, but the distribution of candidates in each race means all of them will advance to the November general election as their respective parties' nominees unless they withdraw. Ten of the candidates are currently unopposed and won't face competition in November unless independent candidates emerge after the primary.

The new District 10, which lies west of Interstate 29, will be contested between the two parties come November. Former Republican Sen. Curtis Olafson faces Democrat Ryan Braunberger in the Senate race. Three candidates, Republican Steve Swiontek and Democrats Hamida Dakane and Damian Ridl, will be vying for two House seats. Swiontek served in the House from 1976 to 1984.

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In District 11, most of which lies just north of Interstate 94, Democratic incumbent Sen. Tim Mathern is running unopposed. In the House race, incumbent Democratic Rep. Gretchen Dobervich and newcomer Liz Conmy face Republican newcomers Carter Eisinger and Brad Leeser. Incumbent Democratic Rep. Ron Guggisberg opted not to run for reelection.

In West Fargo's District 13, Republican incumbent Sen. Judy Lee is running unopposed for the upper chamber. GOP Rep. Austen Schauer and fellow Republican Jim Jonas are also running unopposed for the two House seats. GOP Rep. Kim Koppelman, who served as House speaker last session, dropped out of the race after failing to earn the local Republicans' endorsement.

Three Democratic incumbents — Sen. Kathy Hogan and Reps. Mary Schneider and LaurieBeth Hager — are looking to keep their seats in District 21, which lies southeast of downtown. Republican Bill Kloubec is challenging Hogan for the Senate seat.

In District 27, which includes some of south Fargo and rural Cass County, three incumbents — Republicans Sen. Kristin Roers and Rep. Greg Stemen and Democratic Rep. Ruth Buffalo — are all seeking reelection. Democrat Sonja Kaye is challenging Roers, while Democrat Thomas Casler and Republican Josh Christy are competing for the two House seats.

In southwest Fargo's District 41, Republican Sen. Kyle Davison is unopposed in his reelection bid. GOP Rep. Michelle Strinden and Republican newcomer Jorin Johnson will likely face Democrats Lillian Jones and Megan Edwardson in November. Incumbent Democratic Rep. Pamela Anderson is not running for reelection.

Downtown Fargo's District 44 has three Democratic incumbents — Sen. Merrill Piepkorn and Reps. Josh Boschee and Karla Rose Hanson — aiming to keep their seats against Republican challengers Bjorn Altenburg in the Senate race and Gwendorlene Altenburg in the House race.

In District 45, which includes north Fargo and rural Cass County, GOP Sen. Ron Sorvaag is running unopposed for reelection. GOP candidates Carrie McLeod and Scott Wagner are also unopposed after winning their local party's endorsement. Republican incumbent Rep. Mary Johnson is not running for reelection, and fellow Republican incumbent Rep. Tom Kading lost his district endorsement and bowed out of the race.

Jeremy Turley is a Bismarck-based reporter for Forum News Service, which provides news coverage to publications owned by Forum Communications Company.
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