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Congressman-elect Kelly Armstrong, left, and his wife, Kjersti Armstrong, pause while waiting to be called onto the stage at the North Dakota Republican Party victory celebration on Tuesday evening. Armstrong handily won the race for North Dakota's lone seat in congress.

Republican Kelly Armstrong beat Democrat Mac Schneider for North Dakota’s lone House seat on Tuesday.

Armstrong’s campaign manager declared himself proud to introduce “Congressman Kelly Armstrong” when the race was called for the former North Dakota Republican Party chairman from Dickinson.

Armstrong led with 59 percent of the vote at 11 p.m., with 392 out of 424 precincts reporting, according to unofficial results on the Secretary of State’s website. Schneider, of Grand Forks, carried 36.4 percent of the vote.

The pair was running for the seat vacated by Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., after the third-term congressman said he would challenge Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp.

The two attorneys and state lawmakers squared off during various debates on such issues as trade, health care and tax cuts. Often, they found themselves agreeing on federal regulation, energy development and immigration.

On stage Armstrong repeated his campaign rallying cry: "What's good for North Dakota is good for the country." He promised constituents he would support policy to put more money in their pockets, reduce federal regulation and put the state in charge of its own destiny.

With the likelihood of an all-Republican delegation, Armstrong said he was glad he would be able to lean on Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Senate candidate Kevin Cramer's expertise.

Armstrong said, by banding together, they would be better able to "do what’s best for North Dakota."

Armstrong said he learned from Cramer about being accessible, which he credits for his victory. He said he had to work hard to meet the voters, often taking questions from 20-person audiences in small town coffee shops.

Getting off the phone with Armstrong, Schneider congratulated his opponent.

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"I'm backing him," Schneider said of Armstrong. "His success is the state’s success."

Schneider said it had been an honor to run in the race and, unfortunately, he came up short. 

Long term, Schneider said he would like to see more political balance in the state.

"Obviously, we're not there right now," he said.

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Reach Jessica Holdman at 701-250-8261 or jessica.holdman@bismarcktribune.com

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