Republicans rallied behind Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk at their annual convention over the weekend, giving him their endorsement in the race for the open, at-large House seat.
After three rounds of ballots, Kalk obtained more than a majority of delegates — 929 votes — to win his party's official support over a crowded field.
Republican hopefuls traditionally abide by the GOP convention's endorsement. This weekend, almost every other GOP House contender dropped out of the race prior to Kalk's acceptance speech, including state Rep. Bette Grande, state Rep. Kim Koppelman, former Commerce Commissioner Shane Goettle and businessman DuWayne Hendrickson.
But this year, Kalk will have rare competition in the June 12 GOP primary. Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer announced before the convention that he would run outside the party's endorsement system — a rare scenario for North Dakota Republicans.
Former state Rep. Pam Gulleson is the likely Democratic nominee. But the winner of the GOP primary, likely Kalk, is expected to be the next House Member from North Dakota.
The House seat is open because freshman Rep. Rick Berg (R) is seeking the state's open Senate seat. Berg also received his party's endorsement in a much less contentious convention battle.