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Boschee to run for ND House minority leader as Republicans prepare to pick Carlson's successor

North Dakota Democratic Secretary of State candidate Josh Boschee gives an early speech at the DoubleTree by Hilton in West Fargo on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. David Samson / Forum News Service

BISMARCK - As North Dakota House Republicans prepare to pick Al Carlson’s successor, Democrats may have their own leadership race brewing.

Fargo state Rep. Josh Boschee, a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for secretary of state this year, plans to run for House minority leader, he said Monday, Nov. 12. He cited the relationships he built through his recent statewide campaign and said he was recruited by members of the caucus to run for the post.

Boschee has served in the Legislature since 2013 and is the state’s first openly gay lawmaker. He was defeated by Republican incumbent Secretary of State Al Jaeger last week after campaigning on modernizing the office.

Grand Forks state Rep. Corey Mock said he has planned to run again for House minority leader, a position he's held since 2016, and "build a strong team within the caucus" as lawmakers inch toward the start of the 2019 session in January.

"But I've also planned to visit with several of those leaders — including Josh — before our meeting to work out roles and responsibilities, along with who is best to serve in specific positions," he said in a text message. Mock added that his plans to run for leader remain unchanged, but "a lot may change as we work out details over the next couple of weeks."

Democrats are scheduled to select leaders on Dec. 2.

Democrats lost their only statewide elected officeholder last week when U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp fell short in her bid for a second term against Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer. The party appeared to gain three seats in the state Legislature but Republicans retained supermajorities in both chambers.

If Election Day’s results hold with two potential recounts, Democrats would claim just 25 of the Legislature’s 141 seats.

But Democrats did help defeat Carlson, a longtime lawmaker who served as House majority leader for a decade. The Fargo Republican came in last place in a four-way race for two House seats.

Three House Republicans have announced plans to seek Carlson’s post: Mike Nathe of Bismarck, Dan Ruby of Minot and Chet Pollert of Carrington. The new majority leader will be chosen Tuesday night.

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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