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Despite a bumpy start -- including losing the GOP nomination race to a challenger who later dropped out -- Al Jaeger held the lead in early voting in the three-way North Dakota secretary of state race.

Jaeger, running as an independent candidate, had 50 percent of the vote, with 200 of 424 precincts reporting in incomplete, unofficial results on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Democrat Josh Boschee followed with 36 percent of the vote, followed by Michael Coachman, also running as an independent, with 13 percent.

Although Jaeger was not the endorsed Republican candidate for the office he first won in 1992, the GOP gave him the party’s official support when he entered as an independent candidate after the Republican nominee, Will Gardner, withdrew from the race amid news reports revealing his arrest years earlier on a “peeping Tom” charge.

The criticisms of Jaeger’s rivals in the general election echoed those made by Gardner in the nomination race. Jaeger’s opponents criticized him for being slow in rolling out an online registration system for businesses and for failing to modernize the office.

Jaeger countered that the FirstStop registration system is in testing and is expected to launch early next year. Although estimating earlier that the system would launch by September, Jaeger said that he didn’t want to rush the rollout for “political reasons.”

The secretary of state is the state’s top election official and handles business registrations, among other duties. The annual salary for the North Dakota secretary of state is $105,770.

North Dakotans were projected to elect six other incumbents to statewide seats in Tuesday’s election, including longtime attorney general Wayne Stenehjem.

Stenehjem, a Republican, beat Democratic candidate David Thompson for his sixth term.

Stenehjem, who has served as the state’s attorney general since 2001, collected 71 percent of the vote, while Thompson received 29 percent of the vote with 154 of 424 precincts reporting, according to incomplete and unofficial results Tuesday.

The annual salary for the attorney general is $157,009; they are elected every four years.

In the tax commissioner’s race, Republican Ryan Rauschenberger was projected to beat out Democrat Kylie Oversen.

Rauschenberger, who has been tax commissioner since 2014, collected 61 percent of the vote. Oversen received 39 percent of the vote.

The tax commissioner’s office oversees six divisions dealing with tax law, revenue collection and fiscal management. The tax commissioner, who has an annual salary of $114,791, has a four-year term in North Dakota.

Incumbent Doug Goehring was projected to defeat Democratic candidate Jim Dotzenrod to be agriculture commissioner. Goehring, a Republican who has served in the role since 2009, collected 71 percent of the vote, while 29 percent of voters gave their support to Dotzenrod.

The ag commissioner receives $108,656 annually. The commissioner is elected every four years.

Lisa Fair McEvers was projected to return to the North Dakota Supreme Court after she defeated her challenger, Robert Bolinske Sr.

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Fair McEvers received 64 percent of the vote, while Bolinske received 36 percent.

North Dakota Supreme Court justices receive an annual salary of $157,009 and serve 10 year terms.

There were two open seats to fill on North Dakota’s Public Service Commission this year. The commission regulates electric and gas utilities, telecommunication companies and railroads, and is responsible for siting various energy-related facilities.

Incumbent Randy Christmann was projected to win his second six year-term on the commission, beating out challenger Jeannie Brandt by a margin of 64 percent to 36 percent.

In a second race for public service commissioner, voters decided who would serve out the remaining two years of former commissioner Brian Kalk’s term. Kalk resigned in 2017.

Brian Kroshus, who was appointed to the commission by Burgum in 2017, was projected to continue his service on the board, beating out challenger Casey Buchmann with 65 percent of the vote.

A public service commissioner receives $108,656 annually.

All results are incomplete and unofficial.

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