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Republican Politician Who Died of Covid-19 Wins Election in North Dakota

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David Andahl, 55, as he appeared on Facebook, a platform where he couldn’t be seen wearing a mask
David Andahl, 55, as he appeared on Facebook, a platform where he couldn’t be seen wearing a mask
Photo: Facebook

David Andahl, a Republican candidate for the North Dakota state legislature, won election on Tuesday, but the 55 year old won’t be taking office. Unfortunately, Andahl died of the coronavirus last month.

Andahl, who was known as a “Trump Republican,” died of covid on October 5, according a report last month in the Bismarck Tribune. Mail-in voting started on September 24, which meant that ballots in the central North Dakota district couldn’t be changed under state law.

Andahl won District 8 in the state legislature along with another Republican, Dave Nehring. Voters chose between four candidates, two Republicans and two Democrats, and were able to vote for any two people. It seems most people in North Dakota’s District 8 decided they’d rather vote for a dead guy than for a Democrat.

The vote breakdown, according to the North Dakota Secretary of State, with the two top candidates getting District 8's two seats:

  • Dave Nehring (Republican) - 6,763 votes - 40.72%
  • Dave Andahl (Republican) - 5,901 votes - 35.53%
  • Kathrin Volochenko (Democrat) - 1,896 votes- 11.42%
  • Linda Babb (Democrat) - 1,641 votes - 9.88%
  • Write-in - 408 votes - 2.46%

North Dakota has seen a dramatic surge in coronavirus cases over the past month, with a troubling rise in cases of 49% over the past two weeks. North Dakota reported 1,172 new cases and 16 new deaths on Tuesday alone, staggering numbers for a state of just 750,000 people. In total, North Dakota has identified at least 47,192 cases and 561 deaths since the pandemic began earlier this year.

White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Deborah Birx noted on a recent trip to North Dakota that the state was not following public health guidelines to protect people during the pandemic.

“Over the last 24 hours as we were here, and we were in your grocery stores, and in your restaurants and frankly even in your hotels, this is the least use of masks that we have seen in retail establishments of any place we have been,” Birx said during a roundtable in Bismarck on October 27.

It’s not clear what will happen to Andahl’s state legislative seat, since most precedent in this area date back decades. Some reports claim the Republican Party of North Dakota will get to pick Andahl’s replacement, but one local newspaper says it’s possible the losers in the race could sue to obtain the seat. All possibilities seem like they’re on the table at the moment.

Andahl previously served for 16 years on the Burleigh County Planning and Zoning Commission and received the endorsement of top Republicans in the state, including Governor Doug Burgum.

“I am as conservative as they come, and I tell it like it is,” Andahl wrote in a Facebook post on May 27.

Andahl was only sick for just four days before he was hospitalized and succumbed to the disease according to his mother, who spoke with the Bismarck Tribune. Andahl’s mom told the newspaper that she had no idea how her son had become infected.

The North Dakotan was a cattle rancher and race car driver who even gave lessons and put on car and motorcycle shows. Andahl had no spouse and no children, though his dog Hank “was the love of his life,” according to the Tribune.

Correction: I originally misspelled Bismarck as “Bismark” in this post. That’s embarrassing and my family members from North Dakota are free to pelt rotten fruit at me now.