Kevin Cramer Consolidates GOP Support in Challenge to Democrat Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota

Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images

Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) has quickly consolidated his support among the GOP in his challenge to incumbent Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) after announcing on Friday he was running for his party’s nomination for the U.S. Senate to oppose her.

Within minutes of his announcement, his only serious potential primary opponent, State Sen. Tom Campbell, endorsed him, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

Heitkamp is one of the ten Democratic U.S. senators running for re-election in 2018 in a state where President Donald Trump won.

She is, perhaps, the most vulnerable of those ten Democrats. Not only did Trump win North Dakota by 36 points in a landslide 63 percent to 27 percent, Heitkamp herself only narrowly won her first term when she squeaked to victory in 2012 with a 50 percent to 49 percent victory over her Republican opponent.

Appearing on Sirius XM’s Breitbart News Sunday radio program two days after his announcement, Cramer told Breitbart News Washington, DC, editor Matt Boyle that Heitkamp’s claims that she supports the Trump agenda, despite being a Democrat, are bogus.

“Heidi Heitkamp can say that [she supports President Trump], but her record proves something completely different,” Cramer said, pointing to several examples.

“When the flaring and venting rule came to a vote … we had 49 votes in the Senate to repeal the rule. … She voted no, we lost that by one vote.”

Oil and natural gas production play important roles in the economy of North Dakota. The flaring and venting rule was an onerous regulation the Obama administration imposed on the oil and gas industry.

“That same thing happened with the Repeal and Replace Obamacare bill. She voted no, and again, the deciding vote,” Cramer said of Heitkamp.

“Just this last week, she voted to uphold sanctuary cities,” he added.

“Not to mention, she voted against tax cuts [the Trump Tax Cuts and Jobs Act], which are immensely popular across the country and in North Dakota,” the conservative Republican noted.

“It just goes on and on,” Cramer said of Heitkamp’s record of voting against the Trump agenda.

“It’s going to be a very big deal [to North Dakota voters in the 2018 election],” Cramer said of Heitkamp’s vote against the very popular tax cut bill that President Trump signed into law in December.

“If she hadn’t been crazy enough to vote against banning late-term abortions,” Cramer added, Heitkamp’s vote against the tax cut bill would be the number one issue that could sink her in November.

Cramer minced no words in his criticism of Heitkamp’s vote on the tax cut bill and her communications with the president and North Dakota voters prior to the vote.

“She led the president on that she would vote for tax cuts. At the end of the day, she voted no. It was a very bad vote. If one Democrat voted no, then several would have been allowed to,” Cramer said, explaining why he believed Heitkamp went along with the Democratic Party leadership in opposing the tax cut.

Politically, Cramer noted, that vote will hurt Heitkamp and Democrats in North Dakota.

“They allowed Republicans to take exclusive credit for it. It’s created an optimism, along with a rollback in regulations, which she didn’t participate in,” Cramer added.

First elected as North Dakota’s “at large” member of the House of Representatives in 2012, Cramer has compiled a strong conservative record in his three terms. He was re-elected in 2016 with 69 percent of the vote.

In his interview with Boyle, Cramer hit on a number of key issues in the 2018 race.

In response to Boyle’s question about the “mad dash for gun control” following last week’s school shootings in Florida, Cramer said, “It’s never made sense to me that they only allow lawbreakers to have guns.”

“I think we need to have a more honest discussion about the cause of some of this. … We have to have a bigger discussion about the culture that we live in. … We don’t value life the way we used to,” he noted.

“Violating the Second Amendment shouldn’t be on the table, as far as I’m concerned,” Cramer added.

Cramer also addressed the problem of the credibility of the FBI and the special counsel.

“The whole point of the special counsel was to restore confidence in the Justice Department,” Cramer said, noting that the actions of the special counsel have had just the opposite effect.

“The bias is remarkable. The FBI is no different than any other part of our bureaucracy. … They’ve gotten so big, so powerful”; they don’t think the rules apply to them.”

Cramer pointed out that he sees that problem as a member of Congress.

“They’re so arrogant, they don’t have to respond to our subpoenas,” he added.

As for the FBI’s role in the events surrounding the Florida school shooting, Cramer said, “There should have been direct contact with local law enforcement officials to follow up with [the alleged shooter].”

As for the threat posed by the national debt to our national security, as Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats recently testified, Cramer said reducing our national debt is “very important to the security of the country.”

That issue, he said, was driven by entitlement programs.

“It’s one of the discussions we never want to have. … The biggest driver of our debt so far is on the mandatory side of the ledger,” Cramer said, noting that 70 percent of our spending was due to mandatory entitlement spending.

“Minor tweaks, small things today, can have massive impacts down the road,” Cramer noted, adding those changes were necessary for the entitlement programs to “make them solvent again.”

“We have to have those discussions with our constituents,” he said, even though “most politicians want to avoid the issue.”

Boyle noted that Cramer was one of President Trump’s earliest supporters during the primary season and that he has been an ardent supporter of the Trump agenda, especially the latest tax cut bill that passed in December.

As for the current debate about immigration and border security, Cramer said, “Both sides have to admit and be willing to accept things they don’t want.”

But Cramer added that “the [border] wall is absolutely essential.”

“The long-term savings will be tremendous. Why not build that wall that becomes a tool for several generations that creates a disincentive for people to come illegally into our country? Let’s end the visa lottery system for sure and end chain migration,” Cramer said.

As for the DACA “fix,” Cramer was adamant.

“We have to be able to get some other things in place, or it’s pointless to ‘fix’ the 700,000 DACA recipients,” he said.

Listen to the full interview here: