Kelly Armstrong Wins GOP Primary for At-Large North Dakota Seat

Incumbent Rep. Ken Cramer is running for Senate

State Sen. Kelly Armstrong is likely coming to Congress after winning the Republican primary for North Dakota’s at-large seat. (Courtesy Kelly Armstrong)

State Sen. Kelly Armstrong won the Republican primary for North Dakota’s at-large House seat Tuesday night, and heads into November as the strong favorite.

With 9 percent of precincts reporting, he had 54 percent of the vote when The Associated Press called the race.

Armstrong will next face Democrat Mac Schneider, a former state Senate minority leader, who ran unopposed in the Democratic-Nonpartisan League Party primary.

While North Dakota will host one of the most competitive Senate races this cycle, the open House seat is expected to remain in Republican hands. The difference between the two statewide races is Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who is considered a formidable incumbent.

GOP Rep. Kevin Cramer vacated his House seat to take on Heitkamp, and handily won his Senate primary Tuesday night. Heitkamp was unopposed. 

North Dakota’s rightward shift has left Hietkamp as the only Democrat holding statewide office. President Donald Trump carried the Peace Garden State by 36 points in 2016. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the House general election Solid Republican.

Armstrong won the state Republican Party’s endorsement prior to the primary. He was the state GOP chairman before stepping down to focus on his congressional run.

In an interview with the Grand Forks Herald, he said he was a “Trump Republican.” But he was concerned that retaliation against the president’s steel and aluminum tariffs would decimate the state’s soybean industry.

Armstrong enters the general election with a financial advantage. Armstrong had $395,000 on hand at the end of the pre-primary reporting period. Schneider ended the pre-primary period with $191,000 in his campaign account.

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