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North Dakota GOP supports homeschooling advocate over incumbent for public instruction superintendent – InForum

FARGO — North Dakota Public Instruction Superintendent Kirsten Baesler has lost the support of the state Republican Party.

In a landslide vote, the state GOP convention voted Friday, April 5, to issue a letter of support to homeschool proponent Jim Bartlett of Bottineau over Baesler 967-426. The race is nonpartisan, meaning it doesn’t qualify for an endorsed spot on the ballot.

The candidates must collect signatures to appear on the June 11 primary election. The top two vote-getters in the race will move on to the general election.

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Jason Heitkamp, left, is a former Republican member of the state legislature. Jim Bartlett, right, is a homeschooling advocate.

Provided photos

The vote comes after Baesler has served in the position for nearly 12 years. She has received the letter of support at past GOP conventions.

Bartlett accused Baesler of allowing liberal ideas to guide the office. He promised to get Christianity back in the school, specifically the Ten Commandments, and root out “evil” ideas.

Baesler countered Bartlett’s claims with data that showed her accomplishments during her tenure, such as high graduation rates. She said her office is committed to caring for all children and making sure they get a proper education.

After winning the support, Bartlett sang a gospel song on stage, asking others to join in.

Baesler said in a statement that the vote doesn’t change the momentum of her campaign.

“Our convention process is flawed — it disenfranchises the tens of thousands of Republican voters who can’t afford to take a Friday off from work or school so they can spend a couple thousand dollars to vote in these contests,” she said. “We’ll charge forward and take our record of results to the June primary, and I’m confident all North Dakota voters will advance our campaign to the general election.”

Bartlett didn’t return a message left by The Forum after the vote.

Former Sen. Jason Heitkamp of Wahpeton also is running for superintendent as a Republican. He did not seek the letter of support from the GOP Party.

April Baumgarten has been a journalist in North Dakota since 2011. She joined The Forum in February 2019 as an investigative reporter. Readers can reach her at 701-241-5417 or

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