North Dakota's lone US House member, Rep.Kevin Cramer (R-ND), has now made it “official” – he’s a candidate for the US Senate seat, now held by Democrat Heidi Heitkamp.
Cramer kicked off his campaign with a Friday night rally in Bismarck. In his stump speech, Cramer said the political balance of the Senate, and as he put it – “the soul of our nation,” are at stake.
"We have a razor thin 51-49 majority in the Senate," Cramer told supporters. "One vote could determine whether President Trump or Chuck Schumer chooses the next Supreme Court justice."
Cramer went on to criticize Heitkmap's votes against repealing Obamacare, her votes against repeal of some regulations that Cramer said threatened North Dakota's energy industry. And Cramer criticized Heitkamp's vote against banning abortions at 20 weeks.
"Sen. Heitkamp's votes don't represent our values," Cramer said.
It is expected to be an expensive -- and nasty -- race.
"We know that the mudslingers are loading their weapons as we speak," Cramer said. "And you're going to hear a lot of things about me that aren't true. All I ask of you is to be focused on the things you know to be true."
In a statement, North Dakota Democratic NPL party chairman Kylie Overson called Cramer "the embodiment of the do-nothing Congress."
From her prepared statement:
“After nearly six years in Congress and decades of collecting a taxpayer-funded paycheck, Congressman Cramer hasn’t produced much for North Dakotans – but now he wants a promotion. Instead of working hard like North Dakota families do, Cramer has been cashing their checks and running his mouth – taking his cues from Mitch McConnell and the D.C. swamp."
Meanwhile, with Cramer running for the GOP nomination for US Senate, State senator Tom Campbell is giving up his Senate campaign – and will now seek the House nomination.
Campbell said he’s doing it to unite the Republican Party.
"Kevin's been encouraged by President Trump," Campbell said. "It's pretty tough to buck the White House."
Campbell said he and Cramer have talked about the race.
"We have the same fundamental core values," Campbell said. "I think it's best for the party."
Campbell may have competition for the nomination. Rumored candidates include former party chair Gary Emineth, who was also a Senate candidate, as well as current party chairman Kelly Armstrong, who is a state senator from Dickinson.