Although election results won’t be certified by the State Canvassing Board until next week, it’s safe to say that Democrats were dealt a blow in the state legislature. Across both chambers, the R’s outnumber the D’s 120 to 21, with one House election in District 18 still hanging in the balance.
Longtime incumbent Democrats lost spots in the legislature as Republican newcomers flipped district seats that were blue for decades. One of them, and one of the youngest in this upcoming session is Cole Christensen, a 22-year-old from District 24 whose election played a part in the unseating of Democrat Naomi Muscha.
“The reason it flipped red for all three of us is because we did the things that needed to happen,” Christensen said. “We put up signs, we were diligent about hitting as many doors as we possibly could, we had volunteers, we had events, it was a culminative effort.”
District 24, which is Valley City, saw another unseating, but this time in the Senate. Voters elected Mike Wobbema to the seat held by Larry Robinson since 1989.
“I think a lot of it was just spending a lot of time knocking on individual doors throughout the whole district and just taking time to visit with all the voters out there,” Wobbema said. “I think that made an impact.”
Wobbema wasn’t alone in attributing the doorknocking and outreach efforts to the reasons for victory.
Cole Conley, who unseated John Grabinger for a District 12 Senate seat had similar reasons he thinks he won.
“I would introduce myself, and then they would say ‘Are you a Republican or a Democrat, and I would say well I’m a Republican.’ They would say something to the effect ‘Well, that’s good because with all the stuff going on with the Democrats, we just can’t vote for Democrats,” Conley said.
House Minority Leader Josh Boschee, a Democrat from Fargo, says the seats going red probably had less to do with doorknocking and more to do with a trickle-down effect from the national political arena.
“It’s just tough to differentiate that, and as we see our country and even our local communities continue to be more and more polarized, I think it’s tough for folks to differentiate the independence that some of our candidates have from what the national party is,” Boschee said.
One race, however, is in the air as many outstanding ballots are still unaccounted for. In District 18, just 19 votes separate Democrat incumbent Corey Mock and Republican Cindy Kaml.
If it stays that close after next week, a recount could be triggered. Overall, Republicans outnumber Democrats in the Senate 40 to 7, and in the House, 80 to 14.