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Republican-endorsed North Dakota Secretary of State candidate Will Gardner announced the submission of his withdrawal from the race Thursday morning, after clinching more than 54,000 votes in Tuesday's primary.

Last month, Gardner announced his intent to withdraw from the race two days after the Forum News Service reported on his disorderly conduct conviction from 2006 for peeping into windows of a college residence hall. 

"I believe my leadership would have been a great asset to the office of the secretary of state. However, I exit this race only because I know that Secretary Jaeger will defend the most important aspect of the office, our voter ID laws, which are under enormous attack," Gardner wrote on Facebook.

"I am again sorry to those whom my past actions have hurt. I have since turned my life around to become a better person and I look forward to many great things I can continue to do using the gifts God has given me."

Dawson Schefter, chief of staff for the North Dakota GOP's Bismarck team, said the party's state committee meeting on Saturday has on its agenda a letter of support for an independent candidate. While he declined to say who the party would support, he added that incumbent Al Jaeger is the only other candidate he's heard from. 

"Essentially, what we're looking to do is support an independent candidate for the office of secretary of state," Schefter said.

Following Gardner's announcement last month, Jaeger announced his intent to seek enough signatures to make it on the ballot in November as an independent candidate. Jaeger failed to capture his party's endorsement at its convention in April, after 26 years as secretary of state.

State Rep. Josh Boschee, D-Fargo, is set as the Democratic-NPL challenger for the general election.

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Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or jack.dura@bismarcktribune.com.

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Crime and Courts Reporter