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ND House Candidate Looks to Make History - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

ND House Candidate Looks to Make History

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Joshua Boschee graduated nine years ago -- but in some sense, he's never left school. On a Tuesday afternoon around three, he's typing away at his desk in his office at MSUM, where he works in the Organization and Leadership Office with students. Boschee says he's always liked the energy on college campuses, ever since he came from Minot to attend NDSU. He went from student to employee there, and only left for the job at MSUM a few years ago.

"My goal is to make sure there's someone out there in Bismarck who really understands how universities work, and who understands the student perspective," says Boschee. The Democratic candidate for House District 44 says it's inspiring to he can find out, years later, that what what had seemed like an ordinary conversation with a college student has had the effect of them choosing a particular career path, a project, or a service organization. And it's part of why his platform involves investing in higher ed, making it more affordable, and making sure graduates can get higher-paying jobs that allow them to stay in the state.

"I think we have to be strategic. We can't keep doing things the way we've always done," says Boschee.  

Sending Boschee to Bismarck would be doing things differently for the state of North Dakota. He recently made the "Top Twelve to Watch" list of LGBT candidates by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, and was featured by the online publication Huffington Post. Boschee says he didn't realize it until someone posted the link on his Facebook page. And he says most people aren't asking about his sexuality during his campaign stops. They'd rather talk about property taxes, and how to lower them.

"I'm humbled," says Boschee, of his place on the list, which is right next to Wisconsin U-S Representative Tammy Baldwin, the high-profile candidate for Senate who would be the first openly gay Senator elected. "But I think the impact we're making isn't just that I'm a gay candidate, but that I've been out there working, reaching out to voters, talking about what's important, trying to connect with voters since June."

Boschee is running against two longtime Republican incumbents -- Blair Thoreson, who's been in the House since 1999, and Don Clark, who's been there since 2005. It could be an uphill battle for Boschee in a state that boasts a Republican Supermajority in Bismarck, and who's looking also at potentially sending three Republicans as its U-S Congressional delegation for the first time in about three decades. The Democratic candidate says that his experience as a gay man has given him perspective on leadership that is valuable.

"My experience as an LGBT person has taught me the importance of listening to people," says Boschee. "Everyone has a story."

And it's possible that his story may connect with his district -- which, as Boschee points out, is fairly diverse, including folks who live in low-income housing as well as prime riverfront properties. Many of the homes up and down District 44 -- which also includes Boschee's old stomping grounds NDSU -- are sporting Boschee's signs.

"We are running out -- so that's pretty exciting," he smiles. "But in the end, yard signs don't vote."

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