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1908 Election


North Dakota traditionally votes red for Republican, but today’s general election in 1908 was a bit of a mixed bag. Republican William Howard Taft picked up the state’s four electoral votes to help him win the presidency. Of 94,000 state voters, Taft scooped up over 57,000 votes. The other four candidates split the rest of the votes. They included William Jennings Bryan, the Democrat; Eugene Debs, Socialist; Eugene W. Chafin of the Prohibition Party; and Thomas L. Hisgen of the Independence Party. Taft was the hand-chosen successor by President Theodore Roosevelt, who held a special place in his heart for North Dakota, where he ranched in the 1880s.

In the gubernatorial race, Democrat John Burke won a second term by less than 3,000 votes over Republican Charles A. Johnson. Johnson was Alexander McKenzie’s handpicked candidate. McKenzie was North Dakota’s Republican national committeeman until he retired that same year. He had earlier helped move the Dakota Territory capital from Yankton to Bismarck in 1883.

In other 1908 election news, Republican Robert S. Lewis became lieutenant governor, a post he held until 1911. Lewis has the distinction of living longer than any other statewide office holder, dying at age 99 in 1956.

In a race for US Congress, Republican Representative Asle Gronna was re-elected. He subsequently became US Senator, one of the six senators who voted against United States entry into the "http://war" First World War .

And in those days, North Dakota had more than one Representative. Republican Louis B. Hanna secured the other seat. He would go on to win the governor’s race in 1912.

Finally, Burleigh F. Spalding secured a North Dakota Supreme Court seat with almost 99 percent of the vote.

No women elected that year. Not surprising, since back in 1908, only men (21 or older) could vote in those elections. Women could, however, vote in school elections.

Dakota Datebook by Jack Dura


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