BISMARCK(AP) - Republican Kevin Cramer showed the third try is a charm Tuesday, when he won North Dakota's lone U.S. House seat 16 years after his first run for Congress.
Cramer defeated Democrat Pam Gulleson, a farmer and rancher who once served as a top aide to Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.
Cramer, 51, of Bismarck, will replace Rep. Rick Berg, who won the seat two years ago in a wave of Republican victories. Berg opted to run for the Senate this year instead of for re-election to the House.
Voters also were deciding that race, in which Berg faces Democrat Heidi Heitkamp, a former state tax commissioner and attorney general.
A North Dakota public service commissioner, Cramer campaigned on his opposition to the new federal health care law. He advocates replacing it with provisions that he says will give consumers more control over their health care.
Gulleson, 54, of Rutland, endorsed some changes in the federal health care law but said she wouldn't repeal it.
The candidates also sparred over wind power subsidies, farm legislation and campaign donations. Cramer advocated eliminating a federal tax subsidy for the wind industry to help reduce federal budget deficits and debt. It is a sensitive topic in North Dakota, where the industry has blossomed in recent years.
Gulleson criticized House Republicans for failing to vote on a new farm bill before the old one expired at the end of September and said Cramer did not recognize the bill's importance to North Dakota farmers. She also criticized him for accepting campaign contributions from the coal industry and other interests regulated by the Public Service Commission.
Cramer's victory will leave a vacancy on the three-member commission that regulates utilities, coal mining, pipelines and grain elevators. It will be up to Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple to appoint someone to fill the two remaining years of his term.
Cramer's triumph came in his third U.S. House campaign. He lost to Democratic incumbent Earl Pomeroy in 1996 and 1998.
He also had a setback two years ago, when Berg won the endorsement of GOP convention delegates to run against Pomeroy. Berg went on to defeat Pomeroy with 55 percent of the vote.
This year, Cramer bypassed the Republican state convention and allowed five Republican rivals to fight it out for delegates' endorsement. Their choice, Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk, lost to Cramer in the June Republican primary.