North Dakota election officials say Republican candidate David Andahl, who died on Oct. 5 after he had been sick with COVID-19 for several days, won a seat as state representative for District 8 on Tuesday.
Andahl, 55, remained on the ballot, in part because early voting had begun weeks before his death. His mother, Pat Andahl, told the Bismarck Tribune that she was unsure how he contracted the virus because he had been “very careful.”
Republicans are set to choose Andahl’s replacement by using a committee to make an appointment, according to previous statements by North Dakota’s attorney general. But voters could call for a special election.
Also elected to represent District 8 on Tuesday: Andahl’s fellow GOP candidate Dave Nehring.
Andahl and Nehring previously defeated 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.
The pandemic hit has hit North Dakota hard in recent months.
Last month, the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation called out North Dakota for its alarming death rate following a well-documented lax approach to health mandates in the state.
“North Dakota presently has one of the highest COVID-19 death rates in the world,” a briefing on the model says.
Pat Andahl told the Bismarck Tribune her son was looking forward to helping others as a politician: “So many things he was very passionate about, and was hoping that he could get into the Legislature and be of some help. He was looking forward to it. He was looking forward to being part of that.”
Contributing: The Associated Press