GOP Rep. Kevin Cramer defeated primary challenger Thomas O’Neill late in the North Dakota gubernatorial election, solidifying his Senate run against incumbent Democrat Sen. Heidi Heitkamp.
Cramer’s campaign coasted to an easy victory over O’Neill with 90.3 percent of the vote with 6.4 percent of precincts reporting at 9:12 p.m. eastern late Tuesday evening, Politico reports.
O’Neill, an Air Force Veteran, never posed a serious challenge to Cramer, nor was the prospect likely. After holding several state party and public offices, Cramer has served North Dakota as its sole representative to the U.S. House of Representatives since he was elected to the position in 2012. (RELATED: Heitkamp Wins North Dakota Senate Race)
The general election fight between Cramer and Heitkamp, elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012, promises to be a much closer contest. Both lawmakers are known statewide due to North Dakota only having one congressional district that covers the entire state.
Heitkamp barely scraped out her 2012 win, claiming victory by just one percentage point, and winning again in a state that voted 64 percent for President Donald Trump seems unlikely. CNN has listed the senate race as one of the 10 most likely to switch parties in the upcoming election.
With Cramer, the ideal candidate to take the seat from Heitkamp, Republicans have an opportunity to pick up a seat in an off-year election under a president of the same party. Cramer’s state-wide popularity in a solidly red state puts him in a strong position to overcome Heitkamp’s incumbent status.
Cramer’s campaign will focus on his record and support for Trump’s agenda, while Heitkamp will try to paint Cramer as a partisan whose party loyalty will contribute to Washington’s problems rather than fix them.
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