By JAMES MacPHERSON – Associated Press
BISMARCK, ND (AP) — Republicans in North Dakota were set to endorse candidates for eight statewide offices on Saturday in what GOP organizers say is one of the busiest conventions in the recent history.
About 2,000 delegates were expected at the Bismarck Event Center.
The only contested race at the convention was the U.S. Senate seat held by John Hoeven. He is seeking GOP endorsement for a third term over state Rep. Rick Becker.
The Bismarck plastic surgeon is the leader of a growing ultraconservative faction that has been making waves at small district GOP rallies in recent weeks.
Hoeven was governor of North Dakota before being elected to the Senate in 2010. He is the only governor in state history to serve three four-year terms. He also won the endorsement of former President Donald Trump in the Senate race shortly before the convention.
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Becker is a former gubernatorial candidate. After being elected to the State House in 2012, he founded the ultraconservative Bastiat Caucus, which supports gun rights and limits government and spending.
Candidates do not need approval to run for a primary. They only need the petition signatures of 300 voters to vote.
Becker said he wouldn’t run if he wasn’t approved, while Hoeven wouldn’t. The senator has more than $3 million for a campaign, while Becker has yet to file campaign finance reports.
Also on Saturday, GOP delegates were expected to endorse U.S. Representative Kelly Armstrong, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, Civil Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak, Tax Commissioner Brian Kroshus, Attorney General Drew Wrigley and Privacy Commissioner civil service Sheri Haugen-Hoffart.
State Rep. Michael Howe was seeking GOP approval to replace Al Jaeger, who is not seeking reelection.
North Dakota Democrats at their convention last week endorsed several statewide candidates, but the party failed to recruit candidates for secretary of state and tax commissioner.
Democrats endorsed Katrina Christiansen, an engineering professor at Jamestown University, for the Senate seat held by Hoeven. Democrats also voted to support Bismarck’s Mark Haugen for the US House. He will face Armstrong, who is seeking a second term.
Convention delegates also backed former Marine and Velva native Trygve Hammer for the Civil Service Commission seat held by Hoffart, who was nominated to replace Brian Kroshus when Kroshus was named the state’s tax commissioner. ‘State. Hoffart is a candidate for the remainder of Kroshus’ four-year term.
Democrats have endorsed Grand Forks attorney Timothy Lamb for attorney general, the state’s top law enforcement official. Republican Gov. Doug Burgum nominated former U.S. Attorney and Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley for the remainder of Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem’s term, who died in January.
Democrats also endorsed Tri-Tribe member Melanie Moniz for the second open seat on the Civil Service Commission currently held by Julie Fedorchak.
Democratic delegates are backing Bismarck attorney Fintan Dooley for state agriculture commissioner, a post Goehring has held since 2009.
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