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Legislative primary races to watch


Legislative primary races to watch

Jun 11, 2024 | 6:00 am ET
By Jeff Beach
Legislative primary races to watch
Rep. SuAnn Olson, R-Wilton, hands out flags May 10, 2024, during the Band Night parade in Bismarck. (Amy Dalrymple/North Dakota Monitor)

Today’s primary election includes many races with conservative Republicans trying to unseat lawmakers they view as too moderate.

But in District 8, stretching from north of Bismarck to South Dakota, Reps. Brandon Prichard and SuAnn Olson are being challenged by more moderates. 

Prichard and Olson were endorsed at their district conventions. Prichard, in particular, has gained notoriety for his conservative Christian views, anti-LGBTQ social media comments and ads targeting incumbent lawmakers. 

Legislative primary races to watch
State Rep. Brandon Prichard, R-Bismarck (Photo provided by the North Dakota Legislative Assembly)

Prichard also is the subject of a Federal Elections Commission complaint alleging some of his fundraising efforts were misleading and the political action committee he leads improperly coordinated with candidates. 

“Because I’m running against establishment Republicans, I have now landed myself a review from the FEC,” Prichard said in a video posted on May 30. 

The challengers for the District 8 House seats are Mike Berg and Ken Rensch. Berg was House candidate in 2022, when Olson and Prichard were first elected. Olson was the top vote-getter at 30%, then Prichard at 28%, Berg at nearly 23% and Scott McCarthy at nearly 19%. 

The newcomer is Rensch, who owns ambulance service companies.

“I will refrain from imposing my personal beliefs on constituents,” Rensch said on his campaign website. 

With the North Dakota Legislature dominated by Republicans, here are some Republican primary races to watch: 

District 30

Legislative primary races to watch
Supporters of District 30-endorsed Republicans who are challenging legislative incumbents participate in the Band Night parade on May 10, 2024, in Bismarck. (Amy Dalrymple/North Dakota Monitor)

The Bismarck district has been a prime example of more moderate Republican incumbents facing challengers that are further to the right. Sen. Diane Larson is being challenged by Adam Rose and Reps. Glenn Bosch and Mike Nathe face Justis Amundson and David Charles. The incumbents didn’t seek the nomination or even attend their local district convention, instead gathering signatures to get a spot on the primary ballot. 

District 14

To the east of Bismarck in Steele, incumbent Republicans Sen. Jerry Klein, Rep. Jon Nelson and Rep. Robin Weisz attended District 14’s endorsing convention, but did not seek the endorsement. Instead District 14 Senate candidate Karisa Grothe and House candidates Larry Danduran and Jason Steidl pitched themselves as more conservative than the incumbents and were unanimously endorsed. The large central North Dakota district covers an area between U.S. Highway 2 and Interstate 94.

District 38

Lisa Olson of Minot was stripped of her membership in the Republican Party because of a 2020 Facebook post but is still running as a Republican for a House seat. She is on the ballot with incumbent Rep. Dan Ruby and Christina Wolff. 

District 42

Republican Rep. Claire Cory is looking to move from the House to the Senate but the Republican endorsement went to Dustin McNalley. Cory was arrested last month, accused of driving under the influence. Her court date has been pushed to July, the Grand Forks Herald reported. Cory and McNalley are seeking to replace Curt Kreun  in the Grand Forks district.  Kreun is among the legislators who decided not to seek reelection. There are three Republican candidates for the two House seats, including incumbent Emily O’Brien. 

More election news

For more coverage of the June 11 primary, visit our North Dakota Election 2024 page.

District 2

Two Republicans, Mark Enget and longtime North Dakota GOP figure Robert Harms, are vying for a spot on the ballot for an open Senate seat in the northwest, where the conservative Sons of Liberty group was founded. In the House, incumbent Republicans, Bert Anderson and Donald Longmuir face in-party challenges from Alexa Althoff and Charles Ringwall. 

District 6

Republican Rep. Paul Thomas is looking to switch to the Senate but faces competition in the primary from Zach Lessig. In the House, Thomas chairs the Agriculture Commission and helped push through changes to North Dakota’s anti-corporate farming law. Four Republicans are running for House, incumbent Dick Anderson, Pat Bachmeier, Kolette Kramer and Dan Vollmer.

Other districts with competition for House seats are 26, 32 and 34. 

No Democrats are facing primary challenges for legislative races.