Former state senator Joe Satrom defeated North Dakota House of Representativesminority leaderMerle Boucher for the Democratic nomination. Satrom began campaigning for the nomination almost a year before the North Dakota Democratic Convention would choose the parties candidate for Governor. Boucher announced his candidacy in December 2003 but struggled to make up ground against Satrom.
The two candidates debated at the University of North Dakota, just before the convention, with education and the future of the state's youth the main topics. The Democratic Convention voted by 632 to 341 to endorse Satrom as Democratic candidate for Governor.