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Campaign 2004: Indian country Northern plains

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While the Democratic candidates travel the byways of New Hampshire, Democrats in North Dakota are getting ready to choose their favorite candidate on Feb. 3.

North Dakota presidential preference caucuses are not the same as those held in Iowa or the primary in New Hampshire, but the people who attend the caucuses in North Dakota are serious. They will attend state-wide meetings and cast a vote for their favorite Democrat to run against President George W. Bush.

While they attend the caucuses, campaigning for candidates is allowed within the meeting places. At least two candidates, Wesley Clark and John Kerry said they would come to North Dakota. Others have campaign teams in the state.

At the caucuses, North Dakota will select their delegates to the national conventions.

All Democratic candidates that appear in New Hampshire are on the list in North Dakota.

North Dakota is also the only state in the country that does not require voter registration. For people to vote at the caucus they need to be 18-years-old, declare they voted for a Democrat at the past presidential election and plan to vote Democratic again.

Republicans will also meet in caucus, but their candidate has been selected and they will select delegates to the national convention.

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North Dakota holds primary elections on June 8, 2004.

South Dakota

South Dakota has a different problem. They have to select someone to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of former Rep. Bill Janklow. He resigned on Jan. 20, following a second degree felony conviction.

There is no guarantee the person selected to fill the remainder of Janklow's seat will be selected in the primary.

The Republicans chose their candidate to run for the vacant office on Jan 24. Larry Diedrich will likely run against Democratic candidate Stephanie Herseth. Diedrich outlasted a field of eight candidates. He is presently a state Senator and the legislature is in session until Feb. 27. He said he would make a decision early about his position in the state legislature because his run for the U.S. House would likely take priority.

Herseth ran a formidable campaign against Janklow in 2002. The Democrats will not officially select Herseth until March 6, when the Central Committee meets.

The state-wide primary election will be held on June 1. At that time a candidate will be chosen to fill Janklow's vacancy and each party will select their presidential preferences as well as the person to run in November for the Congressional seat.