Cramer running for Senate

Candidates react to Cramer switch

Jill Schramm/MDN Congressman Kevin Cramer speaks at a Rotary Club meeting in Minot earlier in 2017. Cramer announced Friday that he is entering North Dakota's Senate race.

The switch in political plans by Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-ND, has caused a stir among several North Dakota candidates eyeing national positions.

Cramer announced in Bismarck late Friday that he is going to seek the seat currently occupied by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-ND. Cramer has been in the House of Representatives since 2012. Heitkamp is in her first term as Senator.

Cramer had earlier considered challenging Heitkamp but announced about a month ago that he would forego that in favor of seeking another term in the House. However, pressure from high-ranking members of the Republican party eager to put a well-known and serious challenger for Heitkamp’s senate seat on the ballot caused Cramer to re-think his decision.

Top-ranking Republicans believe Cramer is a solid candidate who has an excellent chance at flipping a Senate seat from Democrat to Republican. In the end, Cramer agreed.

Across North Dakota there was mixed reaction to Cramer’s announcement. Ben Hanson, a Democrat who has already announced his candidacy for the House, said of Cramer’s latest intentions, “For me it doesn’t really change much. He’s been back and forth a million times about being a senator or a congressman.”

Hanson added, “People don’t understand what’s going on with Washington. I hope to fill that gap as someone to put their trust in. I hope that’s me.”

DuWayne Hendrickson, a perennial candidate from Minot, is seeking NDGOP endorsement to run for the U.S. House. He thinks Cramer will emerge as the winner in a race with Heitkamp.

“My thought is that many people believe Kevin Cramer as the surefire winner against Senator Heitkamp, who in much opinion has to be replaced,” wrote Hendrickson in a text message to the Minot Daily News. “I myself will continue to speak to district conventions in the hope of gaining the NDGOP endorsement for U.S. House.”

State Sen. Tom Campbell, Grafton, had earlier announced his decision to seek the Republican spot on the ticket to challenge Heitkamp. Whether or not Campbell will continue to do so on the heels of Cramer’s announcement is a question that has not yet been fully answered. Campbell is said to be considering entering the House race. Phone calls to Campbell by the Minot Daily News on Friday were not returned.

Gary Eminith, former NDGOP chairman, withdrew as a candidate for the Senate race several days prior to Cramer’s announcement. Like Campbell, he is said to be considering a race for Cramer’s House seat. Another challenger for Heitkamp’s seat, Paul Schaffner of Mandan, is not considered by most political followers to be a serious candidate.

Tiffany Abentroth, Cummings, has filed to challenge Cramer for his House seat. Now, with Cramer no longer vying for his current position, the field has been tossed wide open for his seat in the U.S. House.

The State Republican Convention is scheduled April 6-8 in Grand Forks. It is there that candidates will receive party endorsement for various races, including U.S. Senate and House.