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Published October 06, 2010, 06:48 PM

ND Secretary of State Candidates to Debate

Republican Secretary of State Al Jaeger, the target of Democratic rival Corey Mock's allegations that Jaeger is a subpar manager, prepared Wednesday to debate Mock for the first time in their campaign.

By: Associated Press,

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Republican Secretary of State Al Jaeger, the target of Democratic rival Corey Mock's allegations that Jaeger is a subpar manager, prepared Wednesday to debate Mock for the first time in their campaign.

Jaeger and Mock, a medical clinic administrator and Democratic state House member from Grand Forks, were scheduled to meet Wednesday night in Bismarck as part of a series of state and local events organized by the League of Women Voters.

Mock has been critical of Jaeger's office administration, claiming the 18-year incumbent has wasted more than $2 million on an uncompleted office technology project, paid too much overtime to some office employees and made mistakes on election paperwork.

Jaeger left a Libertarian candidate for North Dakota public service commissioner off the ballot in the June primary after the nominating papers for the candidate, Joshua Voytek, were mislaid in his office. Later, he signed a nomination certificate for another Libertarian, state Senate candidate Richard Ames of Wahpeton, who did not qualify for the ballot.

Jaeger later rescinded Ames' nomination and decided, after consulting Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, to list Voytek on the general election ballot, even though he did not receive the 300 primary votes he needed to qualify.

Jaeger said he's managed his office well and conservatively, and that the technology project delays were caused by circumstances beyond his control.

The incumbent Republican has also prevailed in some recent court challenges to his decisions. A federal judge ruled Jaeger was justified in barring Ames and two other Libertarian candidates for the Legislature from the November ballot, on the grounds they did not get the minimum number of June primary votes they needed to qualify. The Libertarians argued the state's minimum vote requirement was unconstitutional.

North Dakota's Supreme Court last month upheld Jaeger's decision to reject a voter initiative petition that sought a statewide vote on whether to repeal the state's restrictions on pharmacy ownership.

Jaeger said the petitions were not circulated with an attached list of the measure's sponsors, which he said was required by the North Dakota Constitution. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Jaeger was right.

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