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Kevin Cramer confirms bid for N.D.'s U.S. House seat

FARGO -- Echoes of the past sounded Thursday when Republican Kevin Cramer entered North Dakota's U.S. House race. The announcement launched Cramer's third try to unseat Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D. Cramer ran twice, in 1996 and 1998, as the GOP nomi...

Kevin Cramer
U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.

FARGO -- Echoes of the past sounded Thursday when Republican Kevin Cramer entered North Dakota's U.S. House race.

The announcement launched Cramer's third try to unseat Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D. Cramer ran twice, in 1996 and 1998, as the GOP nominee for the state's lone House seat.

But it was the more recent past that Cramer sought to highlight when making his announcement in Fargo: His 2004 election to the North Dakota Public Service Commission with 65 percent of the vote.

"I'm better prepared, for sure," Cramer said when asked if he would be regarded as competitive in his third run for Congress, trying to oust an incumbent now seeking his 10th term.

Cramer, a former North Dakota Republican Party chairman, took aim at Pomeroy's seniority and painted him as unable to buck Democratic leaders including President Barack Obama and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on issues that place him at odds with North Dakota voters.

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"Earl Pomeroy voted with Barack Obama 96 percent of the time," Cramer said, noting that Pomeroy recently was quoted saying he was surprised how often he disagreed with the president. "I'm surprised he was surprised."

Democrats were ready with their talking points also, including a statement headed "Cramer vs. Cramer," accusing the Republican of an opportunistic flip-flop in reversing his earlier decision not to run this year for the U.S. House.

Cramer had issued a statement in September declaring that, given the "radical agendas of Democrats in the White House and Congress," it would be an "opportune time" for a Republican to run for Congress in 2010.

Cramer's statement continued, in part: "A race for Congress would distract from my work on the Public Service Commission at a time when our responsibilities are as critical to the future of our state as any in history."

Asked to comment on his earlier statement, Cramer said he would not "shirk his responsibilities," and would work to advance North Dakota's interests in the House. He added that he was confident that well-qualified Republicans would step forward to fill his seat on the PSC.

Since September, Cramer said, Pomeroy "reneged on his promise" to vote against a "government takeover of the health system," in voting for the House health-reform bill, which Pomeroy said was flawed, but voted for the measure to keep health reform viable, and pledged to work to improve it.

"In North Dakota we don't keep bad ideas alive," Cramer said. "We just kill them."

Although labeling Pomeroy as a big spender, Cramer would not say where he would cut the federal budget. He ruled out tax increases for Social Security or Medicare.

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Pomeroy, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment on Cramer's comments. The Democratic-NPL Party chairman, Mark Schneider, highlighted Cramer's change of heart in running.

"You have to hand it to Kevin Cramer," Schneider said. "Most politicians leave a little time between talking out of both sides of their mouths. He thinks North Dakotans will forget what he said just over a week ago."

The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.

Related Topics: KEVIN CRAMER
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