The Republican candidate North Dakotans chose to run for secretary of state earlier this year has officially dropped out of the race after it was discovered he harbored a secret: In 2006, Will Gardner was arrested in a window-peeping incident involving women on the campus of North Dakota State University.
“In light of recent events, I have decided to withdraw from the election of Secretary of State. This is the best decision for my family and me,” he wrote in the post.
No further information was provided by the Mandan businessman who defeated longtime incumbent Al Jaeger at the North Dakota Republican Party convention in April, securing the party endorsement. Hours after announcing his decision, Gardner’s campaign page posted a response from the candidate’s wife, who said the world “is a harsh place to be. You don’t dare mess up.”
At the time of the incident, Gardner was married with two small children, though his wife said they have worked through the issue in the years since.
The incident occurred on January 13, 2006, and Gardner was discovered by a NDSU security guard who noticed him peeking in the windows of a freshman women’s dormitory.
According to court documents, officers said Gardner’s pants were unzipped and his shirt front was pulled out, but Gardner told a Forum reporter that may not have been the case. He also said he had watched only one woman undress, though court documents suggested officers witnessed him moving to multiple windows to look into occupied rooms.
In comments last month, Gardner said he had “messed up” and it was mistake he made when he was “young and immature.”
The Forum notes Gardner was a 29-year-old man at the time.
Due to his dropping out of the race, state Republicans are left to determine how they will proceed.
That course of action has yet to be determined.