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North Dakota candidate wins weeks after dying of COVID-19

Election officials in the upper mid-western state of North Dakota yesterday said a 55-year-old candidate who died of COVID-19 in early October, has been elected to a seat in the state legislature.

Officials said David Andahl, a Republican candidate for the state’s 8th District legislative seat, contracted the virus during a surge in infections and died October 5. His family, in a posting to Facebook, said he suffered from other health issues that complicated his infection, though they did not elaborate.

Election officials chose to leave Andahl’s name on the ballot after the state attorney general said should he win, his replacement could be chosen by a committee or voters could call for a special election.

Andahl had been a rancher and served on his county zoning and planning commission for 12 years. The 8th District, just north of Bismarck in central North Dakota, has two House seats, and Andahl teamed up with another candidate, Dave Nehring, to run for the spots.

In a hard-fought primary earlier this year, the two men had beaten one of North Dakota’s most influential state lawmakers, long-time state Rep. Jeff Delzer, who chaired the state House Appropriations Committee. During the campaign, Andahl won the backing of two of the state’s most influential Republicans, Governor Doug Burgum and Senator Kevin Cramer.

Cramer, a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, told reporters he had supported Andahl because “we need more Trump supporters in the state legislator.” At the time Andahl became infected with COVID- 19, North Dakota was facing one of the worst outbreaks of the virus in the nation.

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