- Associated Press - Saturday, January 30, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Leaders of the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party say they’ll begin courting potential candidates for the party’s gubernatorial nomination after Bismarck attorney Sarah Vogel announced that she’s not running.

Once Vogel came into the mix, other potential candidates stepped back, party Chairwoman Kylie Oversen told the Bismarck Tribune (https://bit.ly/1PoTAFn ). Oversen said those original conversations will be restarted immediately, and she believes the party will have some high-level names coming forward.

“We had been having a few conversations with a few individuals last year early on,” she said.

Vogel, 69, served as North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner from 1989-97. An exploratory committee had been formed late last year for a possible Vogel campaign, and she had recently participated in multiple fundraisers across the state.

She said in a statement Thursday that she decided against a run “after careful consideration, research and meeting with everyday North Dakotans.”

Vogel said she’ll continue working for state residents in the private sector to promote various causes in which she’s involved.

The North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party’s endorsing convention is only two months away.

“The party is certainly disappointed in Sarah’s decision,” Oversen said. “You’re asking a lot of someone when you ask them to run for governor.”

Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple said in August that he won’t seek re-election. Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, Bismarck state Rep. Rick Becker and Fargo businessman Doug Burgum are seeking the GOP nomination.

North Dakota Republican Party Chairman Kelly Armstrong said he’s also been surprised that the Democrats don’t have a single announced statewide candidate.

“I don’t think anyone expected it to be this bad,” Armstrong said.

Vogel was hired as an assistant state attorney general in 1985, specializing in farm issues. She was elected agriculture commissioner in 1988 and re-elected four years later. She mulled a run for governor in 1996 but abandoned the plan for an unsuccessful bid to become a state Supreme Court justice. She has worked as a private attorney since.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, https://www.bismarcktribune.com

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