Local Dems endorse state legislative candidates for fall elections

Grand Forks Herald

Six Democratic candidates seeking to represent Grand Forks in the North Dakota Legislature received official endorsements Saturday at their local party’s convention.

State Senate Minority Leader Mac Schneider, a Democrat who represents District 42, estimated 50 to 60 people attended the joint convention of Districts 42 and 18 at Schroeder Middle School.

The mood during the convention “was pretty enthusiastic and optimistic,” said Eric Burn, chairman of the District 18 Democrats. “There is a lot of enthusiasm about our prospects in this election cycle.”

Grant Hauschild, a newcomer to Grand Forks’ political scene, received the party’s nod to run for the District 42 House seat, which will be vacated by Rep. Corey Mock since he has moved to District 18.

Rep. Kylie Oversen, who serves as the North Dakota Democratic chairwoman, and Schneider both were endorsed to seek re-election for their seats in District 42.

In District 18, Mock and Kyle Thorson were endorsed to run for House seats, and Sen. Connie Triplett received the nod to seek re-election.

All endorsements were approved unanimously, Schneider said, adding “there was a lot of good energy” at the convention.

“We’re excited about the election season (and) our legislative candidates,” he said. “We’re going to run thoughtful and aggressive campaigns and do our best to earn the public’s trust and bring political balance to Bismarck.”

The North Dakota Democratic-NPL Convention is set for March 31 to April 2 in Bismarck.

Judge candidate speaks

In addition to remarks from the legislative candidates, Jerod Tufte, a North Dakota Southeast Judicial District Court judge, also spoke to convention attendees. Tufte is seeking election to the North Dakota Supreme Court after Justice Dale Sandstrom announced last month he would not run again. Sandstrom’s retirement leaves an open Supreme Court seat on the ballot for the first time in 24 years.

Justice Lisa Fair McEvers is running for the seat to which she was appointed in November 2013.

Tufte came under fire in late January when he gave a speech at a combined Republican convention for Districts 31 and 34 in Mandan.

Tufte and district chairmen said they made it clear the Supreme Court justice post is a nonpartisan position and that he was not seeking the party’s endorsement, which is forbidden for judges under the Code of Judicial Conduct. He later told Forum News Service his convention appearance was “expressly authorized” under the code—specifically a rule that allows judicial candidates in public elections to speak on behalf of their candidacy “whether or not at a gathering sponsored by a political organization.”

Officials with the state court administrator’s office and the Judicial Conduct Commission also said Tufte’s actions did not appear to violate the code.