Is Secretary of State Al Jaeger in Trouble?

Secretary of State candidate Josh Boschee (D) holds a news conference to discuss what he views as inadequacies in the current office. (Photo via screenshot.)

More than once this week I have heard grumblings from Republicans that incumbent Secretary of State candidate Al Jaeger may be in trouble. I hesitate to believe such things without any polling to back up the idea, but Democratic candidate Josh Boschee has undoubtedly taken the fight to Jaeger in the days leading up to the general election.

In a Wednesday press conference, Boschee blasted Jaeger as being ill-prepared for the upcoming election. In making his case, Boschee propped up pictures on each side of himself showing the long-time Secretary of State sitting at his desk surrounded by stacks of papers. The picture is fairly well-known in political circles and has become symbolic of what Boschee and others have said is an outdated and disorganized office. You can see it below.

In addition to the pictures, Boschee also pointed out the fact that nearly 2,700 general election ballots in Mercer County went out recently without Independent U.S. House candidate Charles Tuttle’s name on them. An error that requires setting aside and voiding the incorrect ballots as they come in and printing and mailing new ones. Jaeger is blaming Mercer County for not double checking the certified ballots. Boschee says this is just another example of Jaeger blaming others instead of accepting responsibility himself.

Unfortunately for Jaeger, this wasn’t the first time his office has sent out ballots that were missing the name of a candidate. In 2010, the Libertarian candidate for Public Service Commission, Joshua Voytek, was also left off the June Primary ballot due to missing paperwork. Because of the snafu — and in spite of North Dakota law requiring a minimum of 300 votes — Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem determined that Voytek’s name would appear on the general election ballot— which it did.

This has been a tough year for Al Jaeger. The arguments currently being made against him by his Democratic opponent are the same ones that were used by many in his own party leading up to last April’s NDGOP State Convention in Grand Forks. Not only were these arguments made by those within his own party, but they worked. Jaeger was dethroned at the aforementioned convention by newcomer Will Gardner.

Unfortunately for Gardner, a 12-year old peeping incident later surfaced and caused him to withdraw his nomination after winning the primary election. This left Republicans with no nominee for the general election and Jaeger decided to throw his hat back in the ring as an Independent candidate. The NDGOP then changed their rules to allow them to issue a Letter of Support to someone besides a Republican. That letter promptly went to Al Jaeger. So, yes, in a way they’re recycling him. But he should at least be grateful that his convention speech hasn’t been released by the NDGOP. It was ugly— to put it politely.

To top things off, Jaeger isn’t only facing Democrat Josh Boschee, but former Republican Lieutenant Governor candidate Michael Coachman tossed his hat in the ring as an Independent candidate as well. While Coachman doesn’t have the funding or name recognition that Jaeger and Boschee do, we’re left to wonder what kind of an effect he can have on the race if it is indeed close? If he pulls votes from anyone it is most likely to be Jaeger.

Even in Republican circles, Jaeger isn’t thought of as much of a campaigner. Over the years, he’s relied heavily upon name recognition. Which makes sense for someone that was first elected to the office in 1992. But this time he doesn’t have the word “Republican” next to his name. He finally caved and got a campaign website this go around. Yet, many feel his effort to be re-elected has been less than stellar and we’re left to wonder if name recognition is enough given the totality of things.

Indeed, could it be that in what is thought of as a “red state” that the long-time Republican incumbent is in trouble— this time to a Democrat? Obviously, the November 6th general election will provide us the final answer to such a question. In the meantime, if you’re interested, you can view a recent Secretary of State debate here:



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About T. Arthur Mason 883 Articles
T. Arthur Mason is a native North Dakotan who has spent nearly all of his life in the Peace Garden State. As the third of four children in Western North Dakota, Mason grew to appreciate family and the outdoors. Some of his fondest memories are annual deer hunts with family and friends. In his early teenage years, faith became a central part of T. Arthur Mason's life. He and the majority of his family attend church together on a weekly basis and find this a fulfilling aspect of their lives. Through the influence of his father, T. Arthur Mason became intrigued with politics. As a boy, he attended political events with his father and enjoyed the friendships that resulted as a byproduct of those political associations. As Mason grew older, he became convinced that the quote often attributed to Thomas Jefferson was true, "That government is best which governs least." Today, T. Arthur Mason enjoys time with his wife and children, an occasional hunt, and an increasingly active life on the political scene. This blog is the fulfillment of a dream to design a web site in the realm of politics and to advocate for the principles of Liberty and constitutionally limited government. On behalf of all those that contribute to The Minuteman, we hope you enjoy your time on the site and will share the message with others.