A Republican candidate for North Dakota's state legislature, who died from the coronavirus in October, has unexpectedly won one of two seats for U.S. House of Representatives, results showed Wednesday.
David Andahl, 55, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 in October died shortly after getting infected with the virus.
However, Andahl was elected to represent the eighth district in the state’s House of Representatives with 36% of the vote alongside his fellow GOP candidate Dave Nehring.
Andahl and Nehring won the Republicans endorsements and voters' nominations in the June primary.
The win came as early voting had begun up to two weeks before his death and about one-third of the mail-in voters in District eight had already returned ballots, the local authorities said.
North Dakota's Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said in early October that if a Republican state House candidate wins a seat up for election, the GOP would choose his replacement unless enough district voters call for a special election.
"Votes cast for a deceased Bismarck-area state legislative candidate should be counted and if he's elected it would create a vacancy to be filled," he said, citing "the American rule." Stenehjem added that if Andahl is elected to the post, the office would be deemed vacant.
Accordingly, the Republican party will have to find a replacement for Andahl by assembling a committee or even requesting for a special election. Under state law, a committee representing the party of the previous office-holder would fill the opening by appointment. Voters within the district are allowed to petition for a special election.
Andahl and Nehring knocked off one of North Dakota’s most powerful lawmakers, Republican Rep. Jeff Delzer, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, a Republican, gave more than $1.8 million to a political action committee that successfully targeted Delzer’s seat.
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