A North Dakota Republican candidate died from COVID-19 just a month out from Election Day and with no way to replace his name on the November ballot, local newspaper Grand Forks Herald reports.
The candidate, David Andahl, died after a brief battle with the coronavirus, his parents, Pat and Ron Andahl confirmed. They noted that their son had been cautious about the virus because of several preexisting health complications, but that he was unable to hold off the illness once he got it.
“David was a kind, caring man whose greatest joy was helping others,” the family wrote in their statement. “He has been a public servant for many years and was looking forward to the opportunity to serve in the legislature. We are sad that his wish will not come to pass.”
North Dakota Republican Party’s national committeewoman, Lori Hinz, expressed condolences to Andahl’s family. “It’s just shocking and sad,” she said. “I’m just very sad for his family.”
Early voting in North Dakota has already begun, and Secretary of State Al Jaeger said that it’s too late to replace Andahl on the November ballot. “There’s no way to remove him,” Jaeger said. “At this point he can’t be replaced on the ballot, but people can still vote for him.”
Republican candidate Dave Nehring and Democratic candidates Linda Babb and Kathrin Volochenko will also appear on the ballot for the District 8 seat, but Jaeger said he and his office are looking into the protocol for how to handle a potential Andahl win this Nov. 3.
Loren DeWitz, the Republican Party chairman in District 8, said that the district Republicans are continuing to encourage voters to cast their ballots for the two Republican House candidates on the ballot.
“We’re still going to keep campaigning for Andahl and Nehring,” DeWitz said, noting that the executive committee is “pretty optimistic” about the prospect of the deceased candidate winning the seat.