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Heitkamp, Cramer advance to Senate showdown

Senator Heidi Heitkamp provides Chamber members a Congressional update as she wraps up her first year representing North Dakota in the United States Senate Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, at the North Dakota State College of Science Skills and Technology Center in Fargo. Dave Wallis / Forum News Service1 / 2
North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer speaks Sunday, April 3, 2016, at the North Dakota GOP Convention at Scheels Arena in Fargo of his choice to endorse Donald Trump for president. File photo / Forum News Service2 / 2

BISMARCK — Heidi Heitkamp and Kevin Cramer edged closer to their U.S. Senate showdown as the two advanced past the primary election Tuesday, June 12.

Heitkamp, the Democratic incumbent seeking a second term, was unopposed Tuesday. She collected 99.6 percent of the vote with 397 of 424 or 94 percent of precincts reporting, according to unofficial results from the North Dakota Secretary of State’s office.

Cramer, a Republican, was easily defeating Thomas O’Neill of Niagara, N.D., collecting 87.5 percent of the vote, compared to 12 percent for O’Neill.

When looking at the vote totals Cramer had 55,426 on his side of the ballot, while Heitkamp had 34,581 as of 11:30 p.m.

During North Dakota’s primary election, ballots are cast along party lines.

The matchup is expected to be the most expensive in the state’s history. New fundraising numbers showed Heitkamp leading Cramer by a wide margin, but she’s the only Democrat elected to statewide office in a state that President Donald Trump won easily less than two years ago.

North Dakota’s race could help determine which party controls the Senate, where Republicans currently hold a slim majority. Cramer initially opted to seek re-election in the House but jumped to the Senate contest in February after some prodding from Trump.

Once Cramer jumped into the race, one national political observer deemed it a toss-up with no clear favorite. Cramer is seen as the Republicans’ best hope for unseating Heitkamp.

Heitkamp was first elected to the Senate in 2012 by less than 3,000 votes. She was previously North Dakota’s tax commissioner and attorney general.

Cramer arrived in Washington, D.C., at the same time as Heitkamp after a stint on the state’s Public Service Commission. He also spent time as the chairman of the North Dakota Republican Party and as the state’s tourism director.

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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