It was an all-out run to the finish as North Dakota’s Senate race tightened days before today’s general election.
North Dakota and Arizona have come to the forefront of this year’s midterm election with highly-contested races between incumbent Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, challenged by Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D. Then the race to succeed retiring Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., has Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. squaring off against Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz. These two races have drawn the country’s focus as winners will help determine which party controls the Senate next year.
Last week, Heitkamp went on a bus tour that had her stopping at cities across the state, while President Donald Trump’s eldest son was in Williston at a campaign event for Cramer.
Newspaper, TV and radio have been blitzed with record-setting campaign ads. There were about 53,400 broadcast television ads aired in North Dakota’s Senate race between the start of 2017 and last week, which was the 11th most in the country, according to an analysis from the Wesleyan Media Project.
Many area residents polled by News-Monitor Media admitted to being tired of seeing Heitkamp and Cramer attack ads. Mike Loll of Hankinson even said he gave up watching local news because he was fed up with political ads.
The race was tightening days before the general election. Fox News polls released Wednesday, Oct. 31 showed Cramer was leading Heitkamp by single digits at 51 percent to 42 percent among likely voters, according to the Fox News Poll conducted by Anderson Robbins Research and Shaw & Company Research.
It’s a narrower margin than a Fox News Poll released on Oct. 3, which had Cramer leading Heitkamp by 12 percentage points.
North Dakota’s agriculture commissioner has not featured a debate between the two candidates, and the race has featured little advertising. And, like most other races this year, it has found itself in the long shadow cast by the state’s contest for U.S. Senate.
But that lack of focus certainly does not match the role the office plays.
“It is one of the biggest economic development offices in North Dakota, and I would submit that it is right up there with the governor for the capacity to influence business,” said Sarah Vogel, North Dakota’s agriculture commissioner from 1989-97.
The two men vying to be North Dakota’s agriculture commissioner for the next four years stress the importance of advocating for farmers, ranchers and the agriculture industry. Doug Goehring, the current officeholder who is running for re-election, and Jim Dotzenrod, a state senator from Wyndmere who is challenging Goehring, have similar views on what matters in the office.
Dotzenrod felt compelled to run for agriculture commissioner to give voice to farmers and ranchers in the state, especially during the ongoing trade war. The commissioner gets to be a “spokesperson for the 30,000-plus producers” in the state, he said.
Goehring has been agriculture commissioner since 2009, and he too, finds advocating for the industry to be the most important function, along with the opportunity to interface with federal government, energy, the public and more.
For the second Senate race in a row, incumbent Sen. Larry Luick, R-District 25, and Democratic challenger Perry Miller are facing off for District 25 Senator.
Luick is running for a third four-year term. Miller, a Wahpeton councilman-at-large, previously challenged Luick in 2014.
“I love working with people, getting their ideas,” Luick said. “If they want to pursue something or want me to pursue something, they have full access.”
According to Luick, he has worked with hundreds of District 25 residents in trying to get their ideas across and incorporated into legislative priorities.
“I look forward to embracing and advancing Gov. Burgum’s ‘Main Street Initiative’ for small communities,” Luick said.
Balanced funding is a key component of Miller’s platform. He’s critical of North Dakota House Majority Leader Al Carlson, R-District 41, as well as the Republican super majority in the House.
“I think the state needs to get back to funding education,” Miller said. “We’re telling our schools they have to get by with less and putting the school boards in a tough spot.”
There are full Republican and Democratic tickets for District 25 Representative.
Incumbent Cindy Schreiber Beck, R-District 25, is running for a second four-year term, while the Republican ticket is completed by rural Abercrombie homemaker Rebecca Forness.
Incumbent Alisa Mitskog, D-District 25, is also running for a second four-year term in the legislature, while the Democratic ticket is completed by former Fairmount councilman Bill Berlin. Berlin and Forness are each running for their first four-year term as representatives.
Several Richland County leaders are running in uncontested general election races, including:
• Incumbents Nathan Berseth, Rollie Ehlert and Sid Berg to the Richland Commission
• State’s Attorney Megan Kummer
• Sheriff Larry Leshovsky
• Judge Bradley Cruff
• Kelly Klosterman as director of the Garrison Diversion Conservancy
• Daily News Media as the official Richland County newspaper