A look back on Al Jaeger’s 30-year career as Secretary of State

Published: Dec. 27, 2022 at 7:52 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The faces in state politics are ever-changing, and for the first time in 30 years, that’s true even in the case of the North Dakota Secretary of State.

When you think Secretary of State, do you think of Al Jaeger? If you’re from North Dakota, you do. Jaeger won not one, not two, not three, but eight statewide races in his 30-year tenure as Secretary of State. And now, his last day in office is just around the corner.

30 years of work fills up a lot of boxes with office material and mementos.

”I’ve been extremely blessed to have this opportunity. I’ve been elected eight times, and people in North Dakota really have been very good to me in terms of providing me with this opportunity,” said Jaeger.

Secretary Jaeger has made an impact on the state of North Dakota. Your News Leader spoke to a number of elected officials who have worked with him throughout the years.

Senator Kevin Cramer was the NDGOP party chairman in 1992 when Al Jaeger ran against incumbent Democrat Jim Kusler, at a time when most statewide offices were held by Democrats.

”Al did something that seemed highly unlikely in the Republican party in those days, but once Al got into the job, he demonstrated why he should have the job,” said Senator Cramer, R-North Dakota.

John Hoeven, who entered state government the same year as Jaeger, says it’s no wonder he was elected and re-elected eight times.

”You know, he fit that office. He’s meticulous, he’s detailed, it’s been a great fit and he’s done a great job,” said Sen. John Hoeven, R-ND, who served as governor for ten years of Jaeger’s tenure.

Hoeven’s predecessor agrees.

”He’s so focused on the details and the things the Secretary of State’s office does, and that’s what he delivered through all these 30 years of being in office,” said Ed Schafer, who served as governor of North Dakota from 1992-2000.

As Secretary of State, Jaeger has been the state’s top election official, and his peers say election integrity was never in question with him at the helm.

”Secretary Jaeger and his team have been very transparent in how they run elections in North Dakota. They’ve been very, very clean and precise in terms of the results they’ve been able to generate,” said State Treasurer Thomas Beadle, who sits on multiple boards with the Secretary of State.

As for how Secretary Jaeger hopes he’s remembered?

”I just hope that it’d be as simple as, that I’d done well as Secretary of State,” said Secretary Jaeger.

Based on the responses I got from his colleagues, it appears that’s exactly how he’ll be remembered.

It’s the Secretary of State’s job to sign off on all bills and resolutions passed by the Legislature. According to Secretary Jaeger, he’s signed off on 8,335 bills and 1,091 resolutions.