Legislative candidate who won heated primary dies from virus

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A North Dakota state legislative candidate who won the June primary over the longtime incumbent and target of Gov. Doug Burgum has died due to complications from COVID-19, his mother said Tuesday.

David Andahl, 55, died Monday. His mother, Pat Andahl, told The Bismarck Tribune that her son had been hospitalized with the coronavirus disease and died after being sick for about four days.

Pat Andahl said her son had been “very careful” about the pandemic and was passionate about the idea of serving in government.

“He had a lot of feelings for his county ... and wanting to make things better, and his heart was in farming. He wanted things better for farmers and the coal industry,” she said.

Andahl and fellow District 8 House candidate Dave Nehring won the Republicans endorsements and voters’ nominations to defeat one of North Dakota’s most powerful lawmakers, Rep. Jeff Delzer, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

The June primary drew the attention of Burgum, a Republican, who gave more than $1.8 million to a political action committee that successfully targeted Delzer’s seat.

Delzer did not advance to the Nov. 3 general election, and he told the Bismarck Tribune that he thought the governor’s influence in the race wasn’t right.

Before the 2019 Legislature convened, Delzer led a rule change that shifted how lawmakers considered Burgum’s proposals. Burgum later said he felt his executive budget had been “tossed in the garbage.”

Sen. Howard Anderson Jr., R-Turtle Lake, is running unopposed for District 8′s Senate seat. District 8 covers a swath of the state east and north of Bismarck.

North Dakota health officials on Tuesday reported 503 new cases of COVID-19, three more coronavirus-related deaths and another increase in hospitalizations, which have now topped 100 for six straight days.

There have been 739.1 new cases per 100,000 people in North Dakota over the past two weeks, which ranks first in the country for new cases per capita, according to the COVID Tracking Project. North Dakota has confirmed 24,464 virus cases since the start of the pandemic.