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ND Elects First Openly Gay State Representative - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

ND Elects First Openly Gay State Legislator

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North Dakota has made state history as of late Tuesday night.

In a race that attracted national attention in the final weeks up to the election, voters sent the first openly gay state representative to the state legislature.

Democrat Josh Boschee's race looked like an uphill climb at first.

He ran against two longtime Republican incumbents, Blair Thoreson and Don Clark. Thoreson's held District 44 office as a state representative since 199; Clark, since 2005.

In the first moments of the precinct returns, it didn't look good for Boschee, fulfilling some naysayers' predictions it wouldn't be an easy year for Democrats facing a Republican super majority in Bismarck, let alone one with Boschee's unique status -- first-time candidate, and first-time LGBT candidate, too.

But then, the second precinct came in.

With it, Boschee sailed past all three other candidates, including fellow Democrat Bob Jansen, to win the highest percentage of all the votes for the district.

Incumbent Thoreson got the other open seat, with 25.82 percent of the vote to 26.13 to Boschee's -- a total difference of only thirty-eight votes. In the state Senate race, Republican incumbent Tim Flakoll won with 52 percent of the vote to Democratic challenger Rick Olek.

Boschee attributes his win in part to the "hundreds" of volunteers who turned out to help him knock on doors as early as last June to start campaigning. He says he had help from college students, retirees, union members -- a broad base of support. But he agrees it also sends a message to young people in North Dakota.

"I think it shows LGBT kids in the state that if you work hard, and you're true to yourself, anything is possible. And I had this opportunity -- and with a lot of help, it paid off," says Boschee.

Boschee says his top priorities in Bismarck will be tackling higher education issues and property taxes.

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