As a native North Dakotan, I’ve never seen anything politically like what is currently happening in District 3’s legislative races. And all of it surrounds Rep. Andrew Maragos. As I wrote back in April, more than a few Republicans in that district are tired of liberals running as Republicans. And they made their voices heard at a March 27th District 3 Republican endorsing convention— one in which the long-time incumbent Maragos and Ward County Commissioner Alan Walter were beat handily by newcomers Jeff Hoverson and Bob Paulson.
Not to be deterred, both Maragos and Walter pressed on to the June 12th primary where they were again defeated by Hoverson and Paulson. It wasn’t long and word was out that Maragos still wasn’t done. While state law prohibits him from running for his House seat as an Independent after losing the primary, he’s not restricted from running for the Senate. And that’s exactly what Maragos is doing. Last month he turned in his signatures to the Secretary of State’s office to place his name on the ballot as an Independent candidate for District 3 Senate.
While Maragos cites the urging of his supporters as reason to continue on, I think we only need to look at who his main opponent is to understand better what this is all about. While Joseph Nesdahl is the Democratic candidate, the incumbent is Republican Oley Larsen. Not only is Senator Larsen the incumbent, but he’s widely considered to be the most conservative member of the North Dakota State Senate. And conservative is something that Maragos is not. Add to this that Larsen was and is a supporter of both Hoverson and Paulson, and I think it’s clear that Maragos’ Independent run is laced with a streak of political retribution.
On top of all this, we now have a letter to the editor from Maragos to the Minot Daily News yesterday titled, “An Open Letter to the Citizens of District 3”, in which he asks for the support of voters. While asking for that support, Maragos says, “I feel one of my real strengths is the respect I have for all my constituents.” The problem is that he says this while insulting those who voted for his opponents.
How is it that he insulted them? While acknowledging his aforementioned losses, Maragos claims that the primary loss came as a result of “strong, organized, and well-funded opposition, who brought in outsiders to impact the election.” From the way he talks, one might think that the District 3 endorsed candidates brought in illegals to vote and Russians to influence the election. It’s really quite laughable.
So, who were these “outsiders” that Maragos apparently feels cost him his seat in the North Dakota State House? They were North Dakotans. Were some of them from other districts who joined in campaign activities like going door to door? Yes. But is it terribly uncommon for candidates to have people from other districts assist them in their campaigning? Not at all. Did these “outsiders” somehow bamboozle a majority of voters in District 3? I don’t think so. And to suggest as much is not only disingenuous, but it should be insulting to the people of the district that Maragos would even claim such a thing.
You see, Maragos can’t have it both ways. He can’t say on one hand that his strength is the respect he has for all his constituents, while essentially claiming on the other that some of them are so stupid that they were influenced by “outsiders” to vote against him. It’s nothing short of ridiculous.
I get it. Losing isn’t fun. And maybe we should at least credit Maragos for being persistent. So be it. But this has reached a level known as ridiculous. So, as Maragos has flipped the proverbial bird to the District 3 Republican Party and many of his constituents, we are now left to see how they respond on November 6th. Will the third time be the charm in finally convincing Rep. Andrew Maragos it’s time to accept defeat?