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Howe wins North Dakota secretary of state primary; Hoeven, Christiansen advance in Senate race

With 394 of 398 precincts fully reporting, Casselton state representative and seed business owner Michael Howe appears to have won the race with 68% of the vote. Bismarck auto service adviser Marvin Lepp has received 32% of the vote.

Sen. John Hoeven delivers a speech to delegates at the NDGOP's 2022 state convention in Bismarck, North Dakota, on April 2, 2022.
Sen. John Hoeven delivers a speech to delegates at the North Dakota GOP's 2022 convention in Bismarck on April 2, 2022.
Kyle Martin / The Forum
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BISMARCK — North Dakota voters took to the polls Tuesday, June 14, to narrow the field of candidates running for statewide and congressional offices.

Republican voters had a choice between two candidates to replace longtime GOP Secretary of State Al Jaeger.

Michael Howe
Michael Howe.
Submitted photo

With 394 of 398 precincts fully reporting as of Wednesday morning, Casselton state representative and seed business owner Michael Howe appears to have won the race with 68% of the vote. Bismarck auto service adviser Marvin Lepp has received 32% of the vote.

Both candidates have said they want to add transparency to elections and restore faith in the process. Howe is favored more by moderate Republicans, while Lepp is popular in ultraconservative circles.

Howe will face Democratic-NPL candidate Jeffrey Powell in November. Powell, a college administrator from Grand Forks, won his party’s nomination unopposed on Tuesday.

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North Dakota GOP Chairman Perrie Schafer calls to congratulate Republican secretary of state candidate Michael Howe at the party's Bismarck headquarters on Tuesday, June 14. 2022.
Kyle Martin / The Forum

Howe said it's "incredibly humbling to get overwhelming support from Republicans across the state," adding that he will continue traveling to speak with North Dakotans to hear what they want to see in the secretary of state's office.

Lepp told Forum News Service he's proud to have gotten more than 30% of the vote after entering the race late, but he said he's concerned irregularities marred the election. Lepp said he would offer evidence of the irregularities at a later time.

On the Republican side of the U.S. Senate race, incumbent Republican Sen. John Hoeven has received 78% of the vote. Riley Kuntz, a libertarian-leaning Dickinson oil worker, has received 21% of the vote.

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NDGOP Data Director Samantha Holly updates precinct voting numbers at the North Dakota Republican Party's headquarters in Bismarck on Tuesday, June 14, 2022.
Kyle Martin / The Forum

Hoeven, who is vying for his third term in the Senate, already fended off a challenge from Rick Becker, an ultraconservative state lawmaker, to win the party delegates’ endorsement at the GOP state convention in April.

A spokeswoman for Hoeven did not respond to a request for comment.

On the Democratic side of the Senate race, University of Jamestown engineering professor Katrina Christiansen beat Fargo antiques dealer Michael Steele for the party’s nomination. Christiansen has received 77% of the vote to Steele's 23%.

Christiansen said she's glad North Dakotans will have an independent voice on the ballot in November who "won’t serve as a proxy for (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell."

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Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Katrina Christiansen speaks during the Democratic-NPL Party's state convention in Minot, North Dakota, on March 26, 2022.
Kyle Martin / The Forum

Hoeven, a former governor and banker, won his two previous bids for Senate by landslide margins.

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The results reported by the secretary of state's office Tuesday are preliminary until confirmed by the State Canvassing Board following the election.

Voters also propelled unopposed statewide candidates to the general election, including:

  • Republican U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong and Democratic-NPL challenger Mark Haugen.
  • Republican Attorney General Drew Wrigley and Democratic-NPL challenger Tim Lamb.
  • Republican Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Democratic-NPL challenger Fintan Dooley.
  • Republican Public Service Commissioners Julie Fedorchak and Sheri Haugen-Hoffart and Democratic challengers Melanie Moniz and Trygve Hammer.
  • Republican Tax Commissioner Brian Kroshus.
  • Supreme Court Justice Daniel Crothers.

Republicans hold every partisan statewide office, and no Democrat has won a statewide election since former U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in 2012.

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North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley has a conversation at the GOP state headquarters in Bismarck on Tuesday, June 14, 2022.
Kyle Martin / The Forum

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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