Port: Republican lawmaker Dan Johnston expected to announce campaign for Treasurer

Rep. Daniel Johnston (R-Kathryn), pictured here in October 2019. (Photo via Facebook)

MINOT, N.D. — Rep. Daniel Johnston represents District 24 in the North Dakota House of Representatives.

He lives in Kathryn (south of Valley City) and is still serving his first term in the Legislature, having first been elected during the 2016 election cycle.

In 2020, he'd like North Dakota voters to give him a promotion. He's expected to announce a campaign for Treasurer on Tuesday, January 6.

That's according to reliable Republican sources familiar with his plans.

Johnston himself hasn't responded to my inquiries.


That office is currently held by Kelly Schmidt, a Republican who was first elected to it in 2004. She's held that office longer than any other person in state history.

I would expect there to be some competition among Republicans to replace her.

The NDGOP has become so dominant in state politics that there aren't often opportunities for ambitious Republicans to move up the ladder without challenging a sitting incumbent from their own party.

Schmidt eschewing a campaign for another term leaves an opening, and it would surprise me if Johnston were the only one to vie for it.

Rep. Thomas Beadle, who represents District 27 in the Fargo area, is one name I've heard frequently talked about in relation to the Treasurer's race. He has told friends he's being encouraged to run for the office but hasn't reached a decision on whether or not to start a campaign.

As for Democrats, they've struggled with candidate recruitment in recent election cycles, and it's doubtful the Treasurer's office is high on their list of priorities in 2020. Their candidates for the office in 2008 and 2012 didn't even get 40 percent of the vote, and in 2016 state Senator Tim Mathern (D-Fargo) didn't even manage to break 30 percent against Schmidt.

Since the office was founded, 33 different people have held the office of Treasurer in North Dakota.

Of those, just six have been Democrats.


This race may be unique in that it may feature candidates running for the office in order to abolish it. During the 2016 election cycle, Mathern made eliminating the office a part of his campaign platform . That's a not uncommon point of view in state political circles, among both Republicans and Democrats, and it wouldn't surprise me to see it become an issue again in 2020.

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Rob Port, founder of, a North Dakota political blog, is a Forum Communications commentator. Listen to his Plain Talk Podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RobPort.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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