A little investigation and communication clears up misunderstanding
BISMARCK—On Dec. 14, the Bismarck Tribune reported that Air Force Officer and Bismarck native Michelle Axtman had announced her candidacy for the District 7 senate seat currently held by Sen. Nicole Poolman, R-Dis. 7, Bismarck, who herself had announced in November she would not seek re-election. In the Tribune article, Axtman is reported to be the District 7 Republican treasurer [see inset 1 below].
On Dec. 16, The Dakotan was informed by District 7 Precinct Committeeman Matthew Heilman that Axtman was never duly elected as the treasurer according to the district’s bylaws. Heilman wrote, “She was not voted by the executive committee, instead, it seems she was appointed by Chair Claus Lembke.”
That same day, Axtman’s campaign website also described her as “currently serving as District 7 treasurer” [see inset 2 below].
On Thursday, Dec. 17, Axtman responded to a request for comment, “I can’t speak to the processes. I was asked to fill the office.” When prompted for clarification about who asked her, she said, “The district chair.”
Later Thursday morning, Lembke explained, “That was a misunderstanding and directly my fault. That will be taken care of at our next meeting.” He added, “If you spend as long in politics as I have, you think that everyone understands things to the same degree.” Lembke said the next district meeting would likely take place sometime in January.
Lembke followed up by saying, “She probably does have a jump on anyone else [for the D7 treasurer position]. She came to me, and she’s a hell of a candidate.”
Sometime before noon Thursday, Axtman’s campaign page was corrected so that it no longer refers to her as the current District 7 treasurer. The confusion seems to have been cleared up.