The 2018 race for North Dakota attorney general will pit incumbent Republican candidate Wayne Stenehjem against challenging Democratic candidate David C. Thompson.

Stenehjem, a North Dakota native who grew up in Williston and Bismarck, served four years in the state House of Representatives and 20 years in the state Senate, and has served as state attorney general since 2000, the longest-serving attorney general in state history.

As attorney general, Stenehjem oversees 238 employees across 13 divisions.

"I oversee the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, which heads up the eight narcotics task forces in North Dakota," he said. "The crime lab is part of my office, as is the fire marshal. We provide legal services to the state of North Dakota, to public officials. And I enforce the open meetings and open records law, among many other important duties."

Thompson has a master's degree in journalism from Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, and worked as a reporter in Bangor, Maine. He graduated from University of North Dakota’s law school in 1982, worked on legal staff for the legislative council in 1983, and has a firm in Grand Forks where, since 1994, he works in asbestos and wrongful death litigation.

This is the first time Thompson has run for political office.

Thompson called the attorney general's office the second most powerful in the state.

Because the Industrial Commission, comprised of the governor, attorney general and the agriculture commission, regulates the state's oil and gas industry, there is a risk of violations of state bribery statutes, he said.

"Not only are these three offices elected as executive branch offices in their own right, these three individuals … regulate the oil industry," he said. "One of the undesirable and unfortunate side effects has been oil and gas money that has been infused into our body politic."

The general election is Nov. 6.