Democrat Out Of Race For State Senate

A New England man who planned to oppose Republican state Sen. Kelly Armstrong in November’s election has withdrawn his name from the ballot.

Democrat John D.W. Fielding said Thursday that his job as an employee of the Transportation Service Administration prohibits him from pursuing political office.

Fielding was nominated by his party to challenge Armstrong in District 36 last spring. The party chose not to put up a challenger in his place after he dropped out, said Dean Meyer, chairman of the District 36 Democrats who is running for state House of Representatives.

“It was a pretty close deadline,” Meyer said. “We’d had a hard time finding the first line of candidates, so there really wasn’t much we could do with that short time.”

Fielding said he learned he couldn’t pursue public office in an email he received from the TSA about election rules for employees. Federal government employees are prohibited from holding partisan political office, a law that dates back to the Hatch Act of 1939.

“I kinda need my job,” Fielding said with a laugh.

Fielding said he was working as a geologist in the oilfield before the drop in oil prices caused the Bakken’s significant slowdown. He said he wants to stay in the area because his children want to graduate from New England High School.

… I knew it would have been an uphill battle, but I thought there was information that should be out there and voters should know instead of voting the party line like most people do.”

“Family has got to come first,” Fielding said.

Fielding admitted he faced an uphill battle against Armstrong, who isn’t just a state senator but also chairman of the North Dakota GOP. He said, however, that he has had the opportunity to bring attention to issues faced by voters and added that he believes Armstrong hasn’t represented his constituents well.

“I had issues with the way the state handles the oil industry in general, basically from a position of weakness rather than strength,” Fielding said. “… I knew it would have been an uphill battle, but I thought there was information that should be out there and voters should know instead of voting the party line like most people do.”

Meyer said Fielding dropping out of the race creates more of an uphill battle for he and fellow House candidate Linda Kittilson, who face incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Schatz and newcomer Luke Simons.

Simons beat out incumbent Rep. Alan Fehr in the District 36 GOP nominating process.

“It does make the race a little tougher for the other two of us to not have anyone else ahead of us on the Senate side of it,” Meyer said. Armstrong said Thursday that despite running unopposed, he’s still putting in the campaign legwork for not only himself but Schatz, Simons and other Republican nominees he represents as party chair. “Even though I’m running unopposed, I think I’ll be working just as hard,” he said.