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On Tuesday, the North Dakota Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Doug Burghamdo has no power to fill a seat in the State House won by a man who died before election day.

The court unanimously ruled that Burgum “has no legal or constitutional authority to schedule a meeting to fill the vacancy in this case.” Instead, the vacancy will be filled by Jeff Delzer, who has faced Burgum in the past, reports the Bismarck Tribune.

Burgum argues that the Constitution gives him the right to appoint someone to a position in the state house, won on November 3 by David Andal, who died on October 5 from complications from a coronavirus. The House is a sprawling rural area north of Bismarck.

Delzer, who has spent nearly 30 years in the state legislature, was appointed last week by Republicans in the district, the Tribune reported.

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Andal, 55, remained on the ballot, in part because early voting began weeks before his death.

“I’m sorry for the Andahl family that they had to go through all this,” Delzer said. “It’s a pity he died and couldn’t fill the place. I am honored to be elected to the post and will do my best for the North Dakota County and State. “

Burgum, also a Republican, initially appointed Wade Boeshans, the coal’s chief executive, to take office the day after election day.

“After extensive research, it became clear that the only legal and constitutionally viable way to fill the seat of District 8 was through a governor’s appointment,” a statement issued at the time said.

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North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Steneham said the court’s decision confirmed his previous opinion. The court “agreed with the Attorney General that there is a mechanism in place to fill the vacancy in the current law and that the Republican District Executive Committee has the power to fill the vacancy,” Stenehjem’s cabinet said in a statement.

“This whole exercise was a waste of dollars and time for taxpayers, all of which could have been avoided if the governor came across the hall to get legal advice from a person chosen by North Dakota citizens to provide legal advice to government officials. Said Steneham in a statement.

In a statement, Burgum said he disagreed with the findings, but added, “We respect the Court’s opinion and will continue to do our best every day to serve the citizens of North Dakota.”

Burgum gave more than $ 3.1 million to a political action committee aimed at Delzer. Supported by campaign money, Burgum, Andahl and Dave Nehring won Republican approvals and voter nominations in June.

Democrats also say Burgum lacks the power to fill the post. They said Democrat Catherine Volochenko should be the next representative in the district because she received the next highest number of votes.

The Supreme Court rejected this argument.

Contribution: Joel Shannon, USA TODAY; Associated Press

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