GRAND FORKS — Republican Kelly Armstrong is projected to face Democrat Mac Schneider in North Dakota’s election for U.S. House, according to unofficial polls from the primary election.
Armstrong won 54 percent of the vote, defeating GOP candidates Tiffany Abentroth of Cummings (9 percent) and Paul Schaffner of Minot (8 percent), according to unofficial results from 366 of 4224 precincts in North Dakota reporting as of 10:35 p.m. Tuesday.
“We’ve been going hard since we started and we’re not going to let up at all,” Armstrong said. “We’re going to work hard to earn every vote across the state.
Schneider, the lone Democratic in the race, grabbed almost all of the votes cast in his race. He and Armstrong, both attorneys, move on to the general election in November, when voters will decide who will replace U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., for North Dakota’s lone seat in the U.S House of Representatives.
“The focus will stay the same, even though the intensity sharpens as we get closer to November, Schneider said, adding he will focus on issues North Dakotans discuss every day.
Both Schneider, a former state legislator from Grand Forks, and Armstrong, a North Dakota senator from Dickinson, were endorsed earlier this year by their parties.
State Sen. Tom Campbell, R-Grafton, took second with 29 percent of the vote. He dropped out of the race to support Armstrong.
DuWayne Hendrickson, a Republican from Minot, plans to run as an independent in the general election.
Heidi Heitkamp and Kevin Cramer edged closer to their U.S. Senate showdown as the two advanced past the primary election Tuesday.
Heitkamp, the Democratic incumbent seeking a second term, was unopposed Tuesday. She collected 99 percent of the vote with 321 of 424 precincts reporting, according to unofficial results from the North Dakota Secretary of State’s office.
Cramer, a Republican, was easily defeating Thomas O’Neill of Niagara, N.D., collecting 87 percent of the vote, compared to 12 percent for O’Neill.
During North Dakota’s primary election, ballots are cast along party lines.
The matchup is expected to be the most expensive in the state’s history. New fundraising numbers showed Heitkamp leading Cramer by a wide margin, but she’s the only Democrat elected to statewide office in a state that President Donald Trump won easily less than two years ago.
North Dakota’s race could help determine which party controls the Senate, where Republicans currently hold a slim majority. Cramer initially opted to seek re-election in the House but jumped to the Senate contest in February after some prodding from Trump.
Once Cramer jumped into the race, one national political observer deemed it a toss-up with no clear favorite. Cramer is seen as the Republicans’ best hope for unseating Heitkamp.
Heitkamp was first elected to the Senate in 2012 by less than 3,000 votes. She was previously North Dakota’s tax commissioner and attorney general.
Cramer arrived in Washington, D.C., at the same time as Heitkamp after a stint on the state’s Public Service Commission. He also spent time as the chairman of the North Dakota Republican Party and as the state’s tourism director.
Incumbent Wayne Stenehjem, the Republican candidate for North Dakota attorney general, cruised through the primary Tuesday in his bid for re-election and will face Democratic candidate David Thompson who also sailed to a primary win.
Stenehjem collected 99.4 percent of votes cast and Thompson had 99.8 percent of votes on his side of the ballot in unofficial results posted to the North Dakota Secretary of State’s website with 366 out of 424 precincts reporting..
The two candidates will square off in the Nov. 6 general election.
Stenehjem, born in Mohall, N.D., received his law degree from the University of North Dakota in 1977. He served 24 years in the North Dakota Legislature.
He was was elected as the state’s 29th attorney general in 2001 and is the longest-serving attorney general in North Dakota history.
Thompson, a trial lawyer from Grand Forks, is a 1982 graduate of the UND School of Law. During his private practice career, Thompson has worked with law firms based in Fargo and Grand Forks.
Thompson’s decision to run was based largely on his criticism and accusations of corruption of the attorney general as a member of the North Dakota Industrial Commission, a state government entity that regulates the oil and gas industry.
Secretary of state
Will Gardner, the endorsed Republican candidate for secretary of state, drew 93 percent of the vote in unofficial returns in the GOP primary despite withdrawing from the race after news reports surfaced of his arrest years ago.
Republicans gave write-in candidates 7 percent of the vote in the North Dakota primary Tuesday with 396 of 424 precincts reporting in unofficial, incomplete results. Write-ins weren’t tallied because there was no official GOP write-in candidate in the race, although Al Jaeger, who currently holds the office but lost the endorsement to Gardner at the Republican convention, is trying to get on the November ballot as an independent candidate.
Assuming that Gardner honors his withdrawal pledge, Tuesday’s GOP primary for secretary of state will be a moot exercise.
Gardner, a Mandan businessman and political newcomer, exited the race two days after news broke last month that he had been charged in connection with a window-peeping incident outside a female dormitory at North Dakota State University in 2006, when he was 29.
Gardner’s exit came too late for the Republicans to endorse another candidate in the secretary of state primary. GOP leaders quickly announced that they would support an independent candidate after Jaeger, elected to seven terms as a Republican, said he would collect petition signatures to appear on the November ballot as an independent.
On the Democratic side, Joshua Boschee, a Fargo legislator, is the endorsed candidate and the only Democrat vying for the secretary of state job. Incomplete, unofficial results showed Boschee with almost 100 percent of the vote.
Incumbent Doug Goehring and his Democratic challenger, Jim Dotzenrod, will advance to the November general election in the race for North Dakota agriculture commissioner.
Goehring, a Republican, and Dotzenrod had nearly 100 percent of their respective parties’ votes with 397 of 424 precincts reporting early unofficial results from the primary election Tuesday.
Goehring has served as North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner since 2009. He attended Bismarck State College and farms near Menoken. Goehring formerly served as president and chairman of the board of Nodak Mutual Insurance, director of American Agricultural Insurance, president of the Midwestern Association of State Departments of Agriculture, director of the United Soybean Board, director of the North Dakota Soybean Council, chairman of the Bismarck Mandan Chamber Agriculture Committee and president of the Food Export Association of the Midwest.
Dotzenrod is a corn and soybean farmer in southeast North Dakota. He graduated from North Dakota State University with an engineering degree and served in the Air Force and North Dakota Air National Guard. He has represented District 26 in the state Senate since 2009 and previously served in that chamber from 1978 to 1994. The North Dakota Township Officers Association named him Legislator of the Year in 2015.
Democrat Kylie Oversen and Republican incumbent Ryan Rauschenberger will each be moving on to the 2018 general election for state tax commissioner.
Rauschenberger, who has been tax commissioner since 2014, collected 99.3 percent of the vote with 397 of 424 precincts reporting in incomplete and unofficial results from the state’s primary election Tuesday. He was the only Republican running for the position and had 54,796 votes on his primary ticket with almost all of the votes counted..
Oversen, who previously served as the head of the North Dakota Democratic-NPL party and a state representative from Grand Forks, received 99.8 percent of the vote. She was also the only Democrat running for the position and had 30,896 votes as of 11:30 p.m.
There were a total of 411 write-in votes for the position as of 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, 36 for the Democratic ticket and 375 for the Republican ticket.
The tax commissioner office oversees six divisions dealing with tax law, revenue collection and fiscal management, among others. The tax commissioner has a four-year term in North Dakota and is up for election during midterm election years.
The tax commissioner is also the only statewide elected official serving on North Dakota's Legacy Fund advisory board, which oversees how the fund's dollars are invested.
Public Service Commission
Two seats on the North Dakota Public Service Commission appeared on the primary ballot Tuesday, but all candidates will move on to the general election this fall.
With 389 of 424 precincts reporting unofficial results, the Republican candidates received more votes than the Democratic-NPL candidates in the race for both seats.
All four candidates, however, were running unopposed by other party members for the two seats in the primary election and will meet in the November general election.
Republican Randy Christmann, incumbent commission chairman, received 99 percent of votes cast for his seat, while his North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party challenger Jean Brandt also collected 99 percent.
Brian Kroshus, a Republican appointed by Gov. Doug Burgum in March 2017 to the seat formerly held by Brian Kalk, received 99 percent. Casey Buchmann, the Democratic-NPL candidate, also received 99 percent.
The Public Service Commission is a constitutional agency with authority over a wide variety of services from public utilities to weights/measuring devices.
Christmann is seeking his second six-year term. Kroshus is running to fill out the remaining two years of the term originally won by Kalk, who resigned in January 2017 after being re-elected to his second term in 2014.
Buchmann is a union ironworker with 29 years of experience living in Washburn. Brandt is an administrator for a North Dakota oilfield service company based out of Westhope.
Christmann served 18 years in the North Dakota Senate and has a background in agriculture and telecommunications. He and his wife Bethanie operate a third generation cattle ranch west of Hazen.
Kroshus is the owner of a cattle and grain operation in western North Dakota. In addition to working for the Farm and Ranch Guide and Lee Agri-Media, he was publisher of the Bismarck Tribune for 10 years.
N.D. Supreme Court
Justice Lisa Fair McEvers and challenger Robert Bolinske Sr. will advance to the general election as candidates for North Dakota Supreme Court after the state primary election Tuesday.
They were the only two candidates running this year and both move on to the November ballot. McEvers was receiving 63 percent of the vote, while Bolinske was garnering 37 percent of the vote, in unofficial results posted on the North Dakota Secretary of State’s office website with 366 of 424 precincts reporting.
McEvers has been on the court since 2014, when Gov. Jack Dalrymple appointed her to replace Justice Mary Muehlen Maring.
Bolinske announced his campaign for McEvers’ seat in March. This will be his second run for the State Supreme Court after losing his first to Justice Jerod Tufte in 2016. Earlier this year, a disciplinary board admonished Bolinske for accusing the judiciary of withholding information from him in the 2016 race.
Before serving as a Supreme Court justice, McEvers was North Dakota commissioner of labor and a district judge.
Bolinske practices law for his own firm in Bismarck and worked at a Minneapolis firm before that.