Two North Dakota superintendent hopefuls survive primary contest

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June 13, 2012

By Ballotpedia's state executive team

BISMARCK, North Dakota: There are seven state executive positions up for election in the Roughrider State in 2012, but only one of the races - for superintendent of public instruction - was contested in Tuesday's primary.

Superintendent Sanstead did not seek re-election.

The seat opened up for the first time in nearly three decades when current superintendent Wayne Sanstead announced he would be retiring at the end of his 2012 term. Sanstead is no stranger to North Dakota voters, having been elected previously to the State House, State Senate, and to two terms as lieutenant governor before winning the post of chief education officer in 1984.[1]

This year, introductions were in order for the group of candidates seeking election to the newly available, nonpartisan position. Five challengers filed to enter the race in April, but two withdrawn bids left only three names appearing before voters on the primary ballot.

While the position of Superintendent is nonpartisan - candidates run in the same ballot column and are not identified by party - both Republican and Democratic convention delegates chose candidates to support.[2] The first place finisher in the June 12 primary was the Republican delegate's choice, Mandan School Board President Kirsten Baesler.[3] In November's general election, Baesler will face-off against former state Senator Tracy Potter, who finished second in the primary. Potter did not seek support at a party convention.[4] Retired Grand Forks teacher and North Dakota Education Association president Max Laird won the support of the Democratic convention, but received the least amount of votes and will not advance to the general election.

Update (July 6, 2012) - The election results have been updated to reflect the official total reported on June 26.

North Dakota Superintendent of Public Instruction, Non-Partisan Primary, 2012
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngKristin Baesler 37.3% 41,343
Green check mark transparent.pngTracy Potter 32.4% 35,949
Max Laird 30.1% 33,371
Write-in 0.2% 210
Total Votes 110,873
Election Results Via:The North Dakota Secretary of State.


David Monson (R) withdrew after losing Republican support to Baesler at the GOP convention on April 1.[5] Keith Jacobson (R) withdrew in April, citing "personal reasons."[6]

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