The North Dakota Republican Party confirmed it will support an independent candidate for secretary of state Tuesday, May 22, one day after that office’s longtime occupant said he would mount such a campaign. Republican Al Jaeger said Monday he’ll work to gather the 1,000 signatures necessary to appear on the November ballot as an independent. That announcement came a day after the Republican-endorsed candidate, Will Gardner, dropped out of the race once his 2006 peeping arrest surfaced. The North Dakota Republican Party said in a news release Tuesday that independent candidates who intend to petition for a letter of support should appear before a Republican State Committee meeting June 16 in Fargo, a few days after the primary election. The party will begin drafting procedural rules for the meeting.
The news release didn’t mention Jaeger by name, leaving open the possibility that other candidates may emerge. State Republican Party Chairman Rick Berg said he wasn’t aware of other candidates.
“The Republican Party will continue to provide an open, transparent process for those who intend to seek our support,” Berg said in a statement. “Our party has long taken pride in our welcoming nature and to that end we would encourage candidates seeking our support to come forward in June.”
Gardner confirmed in a text message he plans to formally decline the party’s nomination after the June 12 primary. That would mean his name won’t appear on the November ballot, said Jaeger, the state’s chief elections official.