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Bismarck District 35 reps running again

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Republican Reps. Karen Karls and Bob Martinson of District 35 in Bismarck.

Two longtime state representatives serving District 35 in Bismarck are seeking reelection.

Republican Reps. Karen Karls and Bob Martinson on Wednesday announced their bids for district Republicans' endorsements. 

Martinson is one of the longest-serving North Dakota lawmakers, having served from 1973-97 and since 2001. In between those periods, he was the state tourism director.

He is a former House majority leader, and serves as the senior member of the House Appropriations Committee. 

He is a retired lieutenant colonel with the North Dakota Army National Guard, and is an independent landman with degrees from Bismarck State College and the University of Mary. A landman works with oil and gas companies, typically related to leasing.

Martinson said his top priority for the 2023 Legislature is to secure $40 million for a Bismarck wastewater project.

“The city is committed to reducing water rates if they can get state help," he said in a statement. "We have never funded waste water projects, so I asked the Water Topics Committee, of which I am a member, to add it to our study this interim, and the committee agreed.”

Karls was first elected in 2006. She has been a district party chair since 1998. She is a former small business owner who is now retired.

She holds a bachelor's degree in medical technology from Minot State University. Karls served on the House Government and Veterans Affairs Committee and was vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee in the 2021 Legislature.

“North Dakota is becoming a model for other states with respect to energy and agricultural production," she said in a statement. "There is a vibrant and growing IT (information technology) segment of our economy spurred by advancements like the Polytechnic Institution at BSC. It offers an exciting future for young North Dakota citizens hoping to stay, live and raise families in North Dakota, and we believe there is a very promising future for our city and state.”

No challengers have emerged to the two incumbents. 

Republicans Sean Cleary and Ryan Eckroth have announced bids for the Senate seat held by outgoing District 35 Sen. Erin Oban, Bismarck's only Democrat in the Legislature. 

District 35 Republicans' endorsing convention is Feb. 17 at the Northridge Elementary School gymnasium. 

Ninety-eight seats in the Legislature are on the ballot this year, more than is usual due to redistricting, which is done every 10 years with new census data.

Republicans control the House 80-14 and the Senate 40-7.

Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or


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