Election 2018: Rep. Kevin Cramer talks about decision to run for Senate
FARGO, N.D.—It'll be the most expensive political race the state of North Dakota has ever seen: the U.S. Senate race between Heidi Heitkamp and Kevin Cramer.
The candidates alone say they'll each spend about $10 million on advertising.
Heitkamp is seeking her second term.
Cramer just jumped into the race in February, after some encouragement from the White House and oil country.
WDAY's Dana Mogck spoke one-on-one with both candidates.
We start with Congressman Cramer.
"I not only represented the best opportunity to win the seat but perhaps the only likely opportunity to win the seat," said Cramer.
Cramer says this race will "determine the direction of the nation and the soul of the Senate."
It took months to get him to run.
He said no to other Republicans, no to the President.
He didn't want to risk losing his seat in the House.
"Both Chris and I felt compelled to do what we needed to do to help our state and to help our country," said Cramer.
But it was a call from oil tycoon Harold Hamm, whose net worth is $18 billion, that finally tipped the scales.
"When Harold talked to my wife Chris, he said, 'if Kevin does this, if you guys get into this, I will be his national finance chairman.' That was pretty compelling," said Cramer.
Cramer and Heitkamp were elected on the same day in 2012.
Cramer has cruised to victories every two years.
"Yeah, it's a risk. It's tough, but at the end of the day, your country is worth it."
Cramer is banking on the "Trump Effect."
The President carried the deeply red state by 36 points in 2016.
Cramer was criticized for saying not voting with the President is like cheating on your wife.
But he doesn't shy away from the microphone.
He says he's done 300 talk radio shows this year and town hall meetings that turn vocal and confrontational.
"I have more respect for an advocate who opposes me than I do for a coward who supports me," said Cramer.
He knows the race will surely make North Dakota a hot spot.
The Vice President was here.
The President was here, he'll likely make another trip.
But the three-term congressman says this race will come down to voting records.
"When I look at the Trump agenda — rolling back regulations, rolling back taxes, creating more jobs, securing our borders, supporting our troops — I feel pretty confident."
You can find Dana's interview with his opponent, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, here.