VOTE 20

North Dakota Candidate Who Died Of COVID-19 Wins State Election

The late David Andahl, a Republican candidate for the state House of Representatives, won on Tuesday despite having died in October.

David Andahl, who died of COVID-19 on October 5, won a Republican seat on the state's House of Representatives. | David Andahl's Facebook
David Andahl, who died of COVID-19 on October 5, won a Republican seat on the state's House of Representatives. | David Andahl's Facebook

A Republican candidate in North Dakota who died of COVID-19 in October won his state race on Tuesday.

David Andahl, 55, died on October 5 of COVID-19 while he was running for a state House of Representatives seat in the state’s 8th district. Andahl, considered a Trump ally, and another Republican candidate Dave Nehring, had been running for two House seats. 

Andahl spent 16 years working on the zoning and planning commission in Burleigh County. According to the Washington Post, Andahl spent four days in the hospital before he died on October 5. 

Shortly after Andahl died of COVID-19, the virus surged in the midwest region, including North Dakota. More than 48,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the state, including at least 567 deaths, according to North Dakota’s Health Department.

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said in an opinion last month that the “American” rule allows Andahl to remain on the ballot because “votes cast for the deceased candidate should be counted.” 

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) announced on Wednesday that he appointed  coal company executive, Wade Boeshans, to fill Andahl’s seat.
 
“Our hearts continue to go out to David Andahl’s family and friends. There is no doubt he would have served the state well in the legislature,” Burgum said in a statement. “The people of District 8 are entitled to full representation in the next legislative session, and Wade Boeshans is uniquely qualified to serve their needs.”

Gov. Burgum had endorsed Andahl and funneled money into his race in an apparent attempt to unseat a political rival, the incumbent GOP House Appropriations Chairman Jeff Delzer, the Associated Press previously reported. Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) had also backed the late Andahl “because we need more Trump Republicans in the State Legislature,” the Star Tribune reported.

Andahl, who was born in Bismarck, was known as “Dakota Dave,” according to his obituary. His family wrote in a Facebook post announcing his death from COVID-19 that he was “very cautious” and had lived with other health challenges, “but he was unable to fend off this disease.”