1946 United States Senate special election in North Dakota

← 1944 June 25, 1946 1950 →
Sen Milton Young.jpg
Gerald Nye (cropped).jpg
Nominee Milton Young P. W. "Bill" Lanier Gerald Nye
Party Republican Democratic Independent
Popular vote 75,998 37,507 20,848
Percentage 55.54% 27.41% 15.24%

U.S. senator before election

Milton Young

Elected U.S. Senator

Milton Young

The 1946 United States Senate special election in North Dakota took place on June 25, 1946. Democratic Senator John Moses, first elected in 1944, died on March 3, 1945, just two months into his term. Republican Governor Fred G. Aandahl appointed State Senator Milton Young to fill the vacancy and a special election was scheduled.

Young ran for re-election and narrowly won the Republican nomination at a state party convention against two opponents, including former Senator Gerald Nye. In the general election, he faced Democratic nominee P. W. "Bill" Lanier, an attorney, and Nye, who was running as an independent following his 1944 loss to Moses and his defeat at the state convention. Young was able to take advantage of the split field to easily win re-election.

Republican convention

Republicans convened in Bismarck for their state convention, the agenda for which included nominating a candidate for the June special election. Young announced that he intended to run for re-election, and former Senator Gerald Nye also announced he would seek the party's nomination.[1] Across the state, county parties elected delegates to the state conventions, which effectively became proxy wars between the state Republican committee, which favored Young, and the Nonpartisan League, which favored Nye, for control of the party apparatus.[2] Ultimately, the Republican establishment won out. Of, the delegates given instructions by their county parties, all of them were directed to vote for Young. The uninstructed delegates were no more amenable to Nye; in Morton County, the convention passed a resolution expressing "unalterable opposition" to Nye's nomination.[3]

Ultimately, Young narrowly won renomination, winning just a handful more delegates than he needed to receive a majority. The second-place finisher was not Nye-who placed a distant third-but instead political newcomer George Schatz. However, after Nye lost the nomination, he announced that he would continue his campaign to the general election as an independent.[4]

Republican convention vote[4]
Candidate Votes Percentage
Milton Young 195 51.32%
George Schatz 151 39.74%
Gerald Nye 34 8.95%
Totals 380 100.00%

Democratic convention

At the Democratic convention, attorney P. W. "Bill" Lanier, Jr., a Marine Corps veteran and the son of U.S. Attorney P. W. Lanier, won the party's nomination.[5]

General election


1946 United States Senate special election in North Dakota[6]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Milton Young (inc.) 75,998 55.54% +22.50%
Democratic P. W. "Bill" Lanier 37,507 27.41% -17.78%
Independent Gerald Nye 20,848 15.24%
Independent E. A. Johansson 2,473 1.81%
Majority 38,491 28.13% +15.98%
Turnout 136,826
Republican hold


  1. ^ "Republicans Jam Bismarck for Week of Meetings". Bismarck Tribune. Bismarck, N.D. March 11, 1946. p. 1. Retrieved June 19, 2021.
  2. ^ Elston, Wilbur (May 14, 1946). "Political Oratory Blows Full Gale in North Dakota". Star Tribune. Minneapolis, Minn. p. 5. Retrieved June 19, 2021.
  3. ^ "No Instructions Given 200 But 42 Favor Young". Bismarck Tribune. Bismarck N.D. February 28, 1946. p. 1. Retrieved June 19, 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Nye To Enter Senator Race". Deseret News. Salt Lake City, Utah. March 14, 1946. p. 5. Retrieved June 19, 2021.
  5. ^ "Democrats Nominate Lanier For Short-Term Senate Race". Bismarck Tribune. Bismarck N.D. March 20, 1946. p. 1. Retrieved June 19, 2021.
  6. ^ "Primary Election 06-25-1946" (PDF). Secretary of State of North Dakota. Retrieved June 19, 2021.