The death on the ballot in North Dakota won, and now the state governor has started a legal battle over who will appoint a replacement.
In a lawsuit filed this week, Gov. Doug Burgum is asking the North Dakota Supreme Court to assert his right to appoint whoever occupies the state House of Representatives seat won by David “Dakota Dave” Andahl, even though he died of COVID-19 a month before the election.
Burgum has said in court documents he is seeking an “immediate injunction” before the State Solicitation Council complicates matters by certifying the election.
Too bad he didn’t act with the same urgency to tackle the virus that killed Andahl in October while making South Dakota the hottest part of the country, with more new infections per capita than any other.
Burgum still has not imposed a mask warrant even as COVID-19 rages out of control. But he’s proven capable of acting at lightning speed when seeking to preserve what appears to be a big-money political revenge plot.
The apparent plan began in the spring, ahead of the Republican primary, when Burgum poured $ 1.8 million out of his own pocket into a political action committee to support Republican newcomers Andahl and Dave Nehring, who were running in twos. for the two seats of the House in the district. 8. The way it works in District 8, the top two vote-givers are the winners of the two seats.
Thanks to the large sum of the small race, the two Daves finished first and second in the primary. This meant the two Republican incumbents were absent. And the incumbents included the representative of the GOP. Jeff Delzer, longtime chairman of the State House of Appropriations Committee. Delzer had incurred Burgum’s wrath by summarily rejecting the governor’s 2019 budget plan, which traditionally would have simply been approved.
With the first results, what was widely recognized and reported as Burgum’s plan for revenge seemed complete. He was only in his first term, but he had proven himself capable of devising and executing a seemingly perfect plan.
But Burgum showed far less foresight and determination when the pandemic struck and the challenge was to save lives, not just revenge.
If Burgum had not uttered false phrases such as “the path to freedom is through self-discipline” and followed the successful example of states that have instituted mask warrants, his state’s record number of new infections might not have ended up including Andahl.
The 55-year-old racer turned rancher and real estate developer was hospitalized the same weekend as President Trump. Andahl died the same day Trump was released.
Burgum did not attend the funeral, which took place at 2 p.m. on October 14 at Andhal’s ranch just outside the capital, Bismarck. The Foreign Service was preceded by a visit in which the casket stood open in front of a tractor that had and had an American flag hanging from its raised front loader. Andahl was a silent mandate for the participants. They wore masks and sat in socially distant folding chairs while the casket was closed and country music played and a pastor spoke. A series of friends and relatives offered memories of a man of qualities shared by the best of us, regardless of politics.
“Rest in peace, brother,” her twin sister Darci Andahl when her turn came to speak. “I’ll be thinking of you every birthday we have.”
Burgum also made no mention of Andahl during a press briefing on COVID-19 he held in Bismarck at 3:30 p.m. that day. He spoke only in general terms of the deaths that accompanied the peak of cés. His tone was frightening to someone whose Legislature candidate was buried around this time.
“Deaths, of course, again, translate into this as well,” Burgum said of the statistics on the infection. “As we have seen our deaths increase in recent weeks with the small population. We’ve actually had a high number of deaths per capita, and that’s obviously something that we take very seriously and try to prevent.
He acknowledged the effectiveness of the masks in preventing infection and therefore death, but said there were still “issues of enforceability”. And, rather than treating masks as a simple public health issue during a pandemic, he further politicized them by saying they shouldn’t be politicized.
“Now is not the time for us to wage ideological battles,” he said.
He has once again proven himself as something between a shirker and a coward in the battle to save lives fought by medical workers risking all on the front lines.
“Masks work and you don’t need a warrant to wear one,” Burgum said.
Never mind that various states have shown that the masks mandates also work, making people more likely to wear them. If Burgum had insisted on picking one in South Dakota, Andahl might have remained a living candidate rather than a dead one who remained on the ballot because early voting in the state was already underway.
The story of the dead man on the ballot was so widely reported that voters in District 8 were almost certainly aware of Andhal’s change of address at Baldwin Cemetery. Enough of them were more willing to vote for a dead Republican than for a living Democrat that Andahl came in second, just behind Nehring.
The problem for Burgum was that North Dakota law allows the dead to be entered on the ballot, but not to take office if elected. The result was a vacancy.
North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem has ruled that the District 8 Republican Committee may choose the replacement. And that raised the possibility that the place could be taken by Delzer, who had been the target of the Burgum’s plan initially. Burgum would then have spent $ 1.8 million just to see his nemesis return to power just in time for the next budget.
Even though he has allowed cases of COVID-19 to continue to multiply without a mask warrant, Burgum has taken immediate action to fill the vacancy left by the virus.
So, Andahl had no sooner been elected from the grave than Burgum went ahead and appointed a coal company officer named Wade Boeshans as his replacement. Burghm made sure to offer his condolences to Andahl’s family and spoke as if he was intervening on behalf of constituents Dakota Dave was eager to represent.
“Our hearts continue to go to the family and friends of David Andahl,” he said in a statement. “There is no doubt that he would have served the state well in the Legislature. The residents of District 8 are entitled to full representation in the next legislative session, and Wade Boeshans is uniquely qualified to meet their needs. “
Stenejem offered immediate notice regarding Burgum’s appointment.
“Inaccurate and untimely,” he said.
Stenejem accused Burgum of having sight “to circumvent statutory processes and the State Constitution”.
On Thursday, Burgum filed a lawsuit, seeking the North Dakota Supreme Court to uphold his appointment from Boeshans. Burgum was keen to prevent the State Prospection Board from complicating matters by certifying the results at a meeting scheduled for later in the week.
“An immediate injunction is needed,” Burgum said in court documents.
While awaiting the outcome of what prompted him to act immediately, Burgum continued to procrastinate on a mask warrant that could have saved Andahl and many others.
There is only one mandate left to save lives not yet lost.
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