State Sen. Ralph Kilzer, R-Bismarck, said Wednesday he is retiring after more than 20 years in the Legislature, a decision that could prompt multiple Republicans to seek the District 47 endorsement.
Kilzer, 82, who was elected to the state House in 1996 and the state Senate in 1998, said he will retire when his term ends in November 2018.
“It’s time,” he said. “I feel very privileged that the people allowed me to occupy the seat.”
Kilzer said he’s talked to about five people who are interested in seeking the Republican endorsement for his seat.
One contender is Tom Trenbeath, who retired about a year ago as North Dakota's chief deputy attorney general. Trenbeath said Wednesday he is seeking the Republican endorsement for District 47 Senate after talking to Kilzer about his plans.
Trenbeath previously served in the state Senate, elected in 2000 and 2004, but left in 2006 to join the attorney general’s office. Trenbeath said he has missed serving in the Senate.
“I’ve always had the inkling that, if the opportunity arose, I would love to go back,” Trenbeath said.
Next year’s election will be the first time in 58 years that an incumbent will not be on the ballot for the District 47 Senate seat, Kilzer said. Evan Lips held the seat for 38 years and Kilzer ran for the seat in 1998 after serving for two years in the House.
“This is the first time that it’s truly an open seat,” Kilzer said.
Kilzer is a longtime member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. During this interim, he is serving on the Budget Section, the Education Funding Committee and the Administrative Rules Committee.
Kilzer said he does not plan to endorse a candidate because he feels the seat belongs to the people.
“All the people that have talked to me are well-known people in our area,” Kilzer said. “District 47 will have a very strong Republican candidate, and I assume the Democrats will also put forth a strong candidate.”