Voters select leaders, draw Nov. battle lines

The dust has settled and the battle lines are drawn for the general election in November.

Following Tuesday’s primary election, Rick Berg, Kevin Cramer and Kirsten Baesler secured their slots on the Republican ticket for U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and North Dakota’s Superintendent of Schools, respectively. The Republican ticket held the only contested elections in the state.

Also claiming victory were Libertarian candidates Roland Riemers, Eric Olson and Josh Voytek who are running for Governor, U.S. House of Representatives and Public Service Commission respectively.

The Libertarians needed at least 300 votes statewide to gain access to the general election ballot.

“We actually got twice as much as we needed (to get on the general election ballot)” Olson said Wednesday morning.

While calling it “satisfying,” “gratifying” and a “relief” to win the primary, Cramer admitted he has his work cut for him facing off against Olson and Democratic candidate Pam Gulleson in November.

“Now the real work begins,” he said Wednesday morning. “One thing you’ll find in Pam – and she’s somewhat local to you – is she’s smart and she’s got good legislative experience. She’s very different than I am, but you’ll see some good, serious, intellectual policy discussions.”

Cramer also said that his Libertarian opponent is “Like a lot of Libertarians, he’s a serious thinker. He speaks from the heart. He never has to wonder what his positions are because he holds liberty first. It’s always frustrating for conservatives like myself to have a Libertarian opponent because I always feel like that 4 percent, if I could put it in my column, that would certainly increase my chances against the Democrats... But at the same time, it’s a free country, it’s a great process that we have in democracy and having a Libertarian certainly spices up the debate a bit.”

Locally, Madeline Luke and Mary Lee Nielson emerged from a pack of five candidates to claim seats on the Valley City City Commission that are being vacated by Commissioners George Dutton and Jon Wagar. Luke received 1,077 votes and Nielson, 1,012, narrowly edging out local businessman Robert Drake who reined in 860 votes.

A hotly contested Valley City School Board seat went to challenger Rick Ross over incumbent Sharon Buhr. While no official vote numbers will be revealed until Monday’s School Board meeting, Buhr congratulated her opponent and said the uncounted 55 ballots “would not change the final results.”

Barnes County Assistant State’s Attorney Brad Cruff was elected the new Southeast District No. 8 Court Judge at 10,068 votes over incumbent Richard Grosz’s 6,498 votes.

For ballot measures, the first which prohibits the appointment of a member of the Legislative Assembly to a state office for which the compensation was increased in an amount greater than any general legislative increase provided to full-time state employees during the member’s term of office was voted forward, while Measure 2, which would have eliminated property taxes in the state was voted down.

Measure 3, the so-called “religious freedom” measure that would have allowed doctors “the right to act or refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief” was voted down, while Measure 4, which allows the University of North Dakota to stop using the “Fighting Sioux” nickname passed.