Bismarck Tribune Endorses Mock, Cites Jaeger’s “Lack Of Attention To Details And Focus”

I normally don’t care much about the endorsements made by the state’s editorial boards, but the Bismarck Tribune’s endorsement of Rep. Corey Mock in North Dakota’s Secretary of State race (where he’s running against incumbent Al Jaeger) is notable.

Mostly in that the Tribune picks up on many of the same aspects of Mock’s campaign that I did in my endorsement of him.

Al Jaeger has been secretary of state in North Dakota since since 1992. He had a record of solid performance up until the primary election in June, when a candidate was left off the ballot — a mistake for which Jaeger has assumed responsibility.

As the campaign heated up, the state’s residents learned of significant overtime hours accumulated by Jaeger’s upper level staff, raising questions about his use of resources and his working relationship with the Legislature over funding.

And work at the secretary of state’s office has been backed up at times. If the office doesn’t have the staff to get the job done properly, it’s an issue Jaeger should have taken up with the Legislature.

Taken together, these issues suggest a certain lack of attention to detail and focus.

I couldn’t agree more, and I would note that it was Mock’s campaign that brought most of these issues to light.

Meanwhile, Republicans in the state seem satisfied with attacking Mock personally. They’ve lambasted his religious views (which have nothing to do with the Secretary of State office) and all but called him immature. In an interview I did with Jaeger yesterday on the radio, the incumbent refused to repudiate these attacks.

Mock’s campaign has been focused on the issues. Jaeger’s campaign has been focused on muddying the waters while the party attacks his opponent as his surrogates.

I’ve spoken with a lot of Republicans in the state about this race, most of the conversations stemming from their surprise at my endorsement of Mock. Not a single one of them could disagree with the issues raised about Jaeger’s administration of his office. Their only hesitation is in putting a liberal Democrat in a statewide office. Particularly a statewide office in charge of counting the votes.

I wouldn’t support Mock for any policy-making office, because Mock is a liberal and I support conservatives. And I understand the concerns about vote counting given what’s happened in other parts of the country, but I am convinced that Mock has more integrity than that.

North Dakota deserves better than Al Jaeger.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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