Cramer tops Gulleson
BISMARCK -- Republican Kevin Cramer was the winner over Democrat Pam Gulleson with 54 percent of votes counted by late Tuesday night.
"Thank you for the trust that you've placed in me," he told a GOP gathering in Bismarck. "I will roll up my sleeves and work myself to exhaustion for the things that matter most to us."
With 343 of 426 precincts reporting, Cramer was ahead of Gulleson with 117,822 votes to 90,843, giving him 54.4 percent of votes counted so far to 42 percent for Gulleson.
Gulleson conceded the race at 10:30 p.m. in Bismarck, saying that, despite her defeat, she proved critics wrong and ran a strong race against Cramer.
"I wish him nothing but the best," she said. "Our country needs him to succeed."
Libertarian Eric Olson captured 7,505 votes Tuesday, or 3.5 percent.
Before the first results were known, Cramer said he was happy with how he had campaigned.
"For me, this campaign wasn't this small window," he said. "It was a culmination of 20 years of public service."
Experience in government
Cramer has held a statewide office as a Public Service Commissioner since 2003, when he was appointed by Gov. John Hoeven and re-elected in 2004 and 2010.
This year's race was his third campaign for the House, following two unsuccessful runs against former Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D.
Gulleson served 16 years in the North Dakota House, representing District 26 in southeast North Dakota. She also has worked as state director for Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., before his retirement two years ago.
Olson, the Libertarian candidate in the race, is a political newcomer, but has said he was running to draw attention to monetary and civil liberty issues ignored by major party candidates.
Cramer wins a two-year term in the House, earning a salary of $174,000 as a freshman representative. The seat was left vacant by Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., who is running against former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp for the U.S. Senate.
Berg ousted Pomeroy in 2010 after 18 years in office.
Spending and the federal deficit were issues shared by all of the candidates, though Gulleson and Cramer both tried to portray each other as out-of-touch with the state's mainstream.
Though the race is for one-third of the state's Washington delegation, it has drawn less money and attention than the tightly contested race for the U.S. Senate.