A Republican challenger has won an incumbent Democrat senator’s seat in North Dakota

  • GOP Rep. Kevin Cramer defeated incumbent Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in the North Dakota Senate race.
  • Cramer was heavily favoured going into election night since the state voted for Trump by a 35 point margin in 2016.
  • Heitkamp tries to hit Cramer on healthcare, but may have been hurt by her vote against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp lost her re-election bid to current GOP Rep. Kevin Cramer, adding to the Democrats’ losses in the US Senate in Tuesday’s midterm elections.

Heitkamp defended the seat she won in 2012 in deep Trump territory, which gave Cramer – who is currently serving in the House – a decided advantage heading into Election Day. The president won the state with a 63% share of the vote in 2016 but his popularity slid slightly in the state over the past two years acording to Morning Consul

Cramer played up connections with Trump throughout the campaign, while Heitkamp struck a more independent tone on issues.

The race opened up in the run up to the election with Cramer holding an 11 percentage point lead in RealClearPolitics polling average. That was a significant jump from Cramer’s slim 1.6 point lead at the end of September.Most electionforecasters also gave the edge to Cramer heading into election night.

The issues

Heitkamp touted bipartisan credentials, such as a vote for a Republican-backed plan that eased regulations on small and mid-sized banks. The senator voted for Trump-supported legislation 55% of the time, the second-most of any Democrat.

Heitkamp attacked Cramer for voting in favour of the American Health Care Act, the GOP’s Obamacare replacement, which would have weakened protections for people with preexisting conditions.

The former North Dakota attorney general also used Trump’s trade war with China as a weapon against Cramer. China’s tariffs on American soybeans have caused Chinese orders of the crop to plummet, resulting in a massive supple increase, plummeting prices, and a growing store of soybeans that could rot before the tariffs are lifted.

Cramer, who voted with Trump close to 99% of the time, played up ties with the president on the campaign trail. The former chairman of the state’s Republican party touted the GOP tax law and hammered Heitkamp for voting against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Heitkamp also drew flak after running an ad that featured the names of sexual assault victims without their consent. The ad was formatted as an open letter to Cramer after the candidate called the #MeToo movement a “movement towards victimization.”