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Kevin Cramer
Kevin Cramer, official portrait, 116th congress 2.jpg
Official portrait, 2019
United States Senator
from North Dakota
Assumed office
January 3, 2019
Serving with John Hoeven
Preceded by Heidi Heitkamp
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Dakota's at-large district
In office
January 3, 2013 – January 3, 2019
Preceded by Rick Berg
Succeeded by Kelly Armstrong
Member of the North Dakota Public Service Commission
In office
August 1, 2003 – December 31, 2012
Preceded by Leo Reinbold
Succeeded by Julie Fedorchak
Chair of the North Dakota Republican Party
In office
July 1991 – May 1993
Preceded by Layton Freborg
Succeeded by John Korsmo
Personal details
Kevin John Cramer

(1961-01-21) January 21, 1961 (age 63)
Rolette, North Dakota, U.S.
Political party Republican
Kris Cramer
(m. 1986)
Children 5
Education Concordia College (BA)
University of Mary (MA)

Kevin John Cramer (born January 21, 1961) is an American politician who has served as the junior United States senator for North Dakota since 2019. A member of the Republican Party, he represented North Dakota's at-large congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 2013 to 2019.

Cramer chaired the North Dakota Republican Party from 1991 to 1993 and served as state Tourism Director from 1993 to 1997 and state Economic Development Director from 1997 to 2000. He served on the state Public Service Commission from 2003 to 2012.

Early life and education

Cramer was born in Rolette, North Dakota, the first of five children of Clarice (Hjelden) and Richard Cramer. He was raised in Kindred, North Dakota, in Cass County, and graduated from Kindred High School. He received a B.A. degree from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, in 1983. He earned a master's degree in management from the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota, in 2003.

Early career

After college, Cramer campaigned for the Republican-endorsed tax commissioner candidate Scott Hove in 1984. In 1986, he campaigned for U.S. Senator Mark Andrews in his bid for reelection. Andrews lost to North Dakota Democratic-Nonpartisan League Party U.S. Senator Kent Conrad. Cramer went to work for the state Republican Party.

Cramer served as chairman of the North Dakota Republican Party from 1991 to 1993. At age 30, he was the youngest person to be named state party chairman.

In May 1993, Republican governor Ed Schafer appointed Cramer state tourism director. Cramer was preceded by Jim Fuglie and succeeded by Bob Martinson. He served in the position until he was appointed Economic Development Director in June 1997. Cramer was preceded by Chuck Stroup and succeeded by Lee Peterson in December 2000 as the director.

Following his stint as director of economic development, Cramer became director of the Harold Schafer Leadership Foundation in 2000. He served in the position until 2003.

North Dakota Public Service Commission (2003–2012)

In 2003, Governor John Hoeven appointed Cramer to the Public Service Commission. He was elected to a six-year term on the Public Service Commission in 2004, defeating NPL nominee Ron Gumeringer, 65–35%.

In 2010, Cramer was reelected to a second term on the Public Service Commission, defeating Democratic nominee Brad Crabtree 61–35%. He served on the commission until 2012.

U.S. House of Representatives (2013–2019)

Kevin Cramer, official portrait, 113th Congress
Cramer's first official portrait during the 113th Congress



In 1996, House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas—a North Dakota native—persuaded Cramer to challenge Democratic U.S. Congressman Earl Pomeroy for North Dakota's at-large congressional seat. Pomeroy defeated him, 55%–43%.


In 1998, Cramer challenged Pomeroy again. Pomeroy won, 56%–41%.


On January 14, Cramer announced that he would run for North Dakota's seat in the United States House of Representatives for a third time in the 2010 election. In early 2010, he appeared at North Dakota town hall meetings, where he opposed the Affordable Care Act. Cramer attended numerous Tea Party rallies in North Dakota, speaking about energy, taxes, jobs and the U.S. Constitution. At the state Republican Party convention in March 2010, former House Majority Leader Rick Berg won the Republican congressional nomination; Berg was elected to Congress in November.


In 2012, Berg retired in order to run for the U.S. Senate. Cramer decided to run for the seat a fourth time.

Various national conservative groups, include FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth, endorsed Cramer, while Berg endorsed Cramer's rival, fellow Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk. In the Republican primary election in June 2012, Cramer received 54,405 votes (54%) to Kalk's 45,415 (45%).

In the November 2012 general election Cramer defeated Democratic-NPL State Representative Pam Gulleson, with 173,585 votes (55%) to Gulleson's 131,870 (42%). Libertarian Party candidate Eric Olson received about 3% of the vote. He was sworn in on January 3, 2013.


In 2014 Cramer ran for reelection and was unopposed in the Republican primary. He won the general election with 55% of the vote, defeating Democratic-NPL nominee George B. Sinner, who received 38%. Libertarian candidate Jack Seaman received slightly under 6%.


In 2016 Cramer ran for a third term in Congress. He was unopposed in the primary and defeated Democratic-NPL nominee Chase Iron Eyes, a Native American activist, in the general election with 69% of the vote.

Tenure and political positions

Kevin Cramer (8567353784)
Cramer speaking at the 2013 CPAC in National Harbor, Maryland.

Donald Trump

Cramer was "one of a handful of early Trump endorsers" among U.S. House Republicans.

Cramer supported Trump's 2017 executive order banning entry to the U.S. by citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, saying, "I think what Donald Trump is doing is he's pulling America's head out of the sand and facing the reality that we have not been kept very safe by current immigration and refugee policies." He has been described as one of Trump's allies in Congress and pledged to be with Trump "100 percent of the time".

In February 2017, during Trump's first address to a joint session of Congress, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and a number of other female Democratic members of Congress wore white in protest of Trump. Cramer mocked the protest, saying Pelosi dressed "poorly" and remarking, "It is a syndrome. There is no question, there is a disease associated with the notion that a bunch of women would wear bad-looking white pantsuits in solidarity with Hillary Clinton to celebrate her loss. You cannot get that weird."

In June 2020, Cramer blocked bipartisan legislation to sanction China over its actions to undermine Hong Kong's independence—legislation he had co-sponsored—because the Trump administration requested that he do so.

On May 28, 2021, Cramer voted against creating an independent commission to investigate the 2021 United States Capitol attack.

Environment and energy

Cramer rejects the scientific consensus on climate change. He has said that he would support a small carbon tax if the revenue went to research and development on clean fuel. Reuters has described Cramer as "one of America's most ardent drilling advocates." He supports an increase in oil and gas drilling on public lands and cutting taxes for energy producers, and opposes what he characterizes as overreach by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. In May 2016 Trump asked Cramer to draft his campaign's energy policy. Cramer wrote Trump's energy plan, which heavily promoted fossil fuels, weakened environmental regulation, and vowed to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement and repeal U.S. regulations of carbon emissions.

Food stamps

Cramer supports cuts in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly the Food Stamp Program), and attracted controversy in 2013 when he cited a biblical quotation several times in support of Republicans' efforts to cut $40 billion from the program over ten years.

Gun policy

Cramer said that gun control would not have prevented the Orlando nightclub shooting. In 2016 he criticized proposed gun control legislation, saying, "The problem isn't the U.S. Constitution. The problem is Islamic terrorism."

Health care

Cramer opposes the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") and voted to repeal it without a replacement five times. He has voted against health insurance protections for patients with preexisting conditions and against the expansion of Medicaid. Cramer has said that the American Health Care Act of 2017, the Republican bill he supported to repeal and replace Obamacare, would have prevented "price discrimination" against people with preexisting conditions; The Washington Post fact-checker called this assertion false.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Cramer introduced legislation to ban vaccine and mask mandates. He opposed adding unruly passengers to the "no-fly" list, saying that unruly passengers who refuse to comply with mask requirements are not the same as terrorists.

LGBT rights

Cramer opposes same-sex marriage and condemned the Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.

Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh

..... Cramer questioned whether Ford's allegation would disqualify Kavanaugh from the Supreme Court even if true, but said that if Kavanaugh were found to have lied in denying the allegation, that would be disqualifying.


Cramer has voted to repeal the estate tax, which imposes a tax after the first several million dollars on a dead person's estate. He supports Trump's 25% tax on many types of imports, which may have decreased sales for North Dakota's soybean industry in 2018, but has said he believes the long-term benefits of a trade war are worth it.

U.S. Senate

Kevin Cramer, official portrait, 116th congress (cropped)
Cramer during the
116th Congress



On January 11, 2018, after months of speculation, Cramer announced that he would not seek the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate to run against Democratic-NPL incumbent Heidi Heitkamp and would instead run for reelection to the U.S. House. On February 15, he announced that he had changed his mind and would run for the Senate. Odney advertising firm president Pat Finken served as Cramer's campaign manager. On April 7, Cramer won the North Dakota Republican Party's endorsement. Three days later, his campaign announced it had raised $1.35 million in the first quarter of 2018, most of it in late February and March.

In June 2018, The Washington Post reported that Cramer had contacted the White House to seek political help in his Senate campaign and was upset that Trump had not publicly criticized Heitkamp in the same way that he had criticized other Democrats. Cramer later publicly criticized White House staff and argued that Trump was refraining because Heitkamp was a woman. Trump scheduled a trip to North Dakota that month to campaign for Cramer, a trip that Politico reported "could go a long way toward extinguishing tensions between the White House and the Senate hopeful."

..... He also agreed with the organization that "public schools should be 'prevented from brainwashing elementary school children with the Homosexual Agenda.'" Cramer supported requiring schools to teach that there are only two genders and granting Christian businesses the right to not service same-sex weddings. A spokesman for him said: "Let's be clear. Congressman Cramer doesn't support the teaching of history with any special emphasis on any particular group. History is history and should be taught as such. ....."

Cramer won the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate on June 12, 2018. The next month, a spokesperson for the political network organized by the Koch brothers announced that they would not financially support Cramer's campaign because the brothers viewed him as insufficiently supportive of free trade and fiscal conservatism, and because they felt he held other views inconsistent with theirs.

In the November 6 general election, Cramer defeated Heitkamp with 55% of the vote to Heitkamp's 44%.


In July 2019, Cramer said he favored lawsuits seeking to overturn Obamacare. The same year, he held up the confirmation of a White House budget official in order to get the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to release sensitive documents about border wall construction. Cramer had pushed the Army Corps to use a North Dakota firm run by his 2018 campaign donor Tommy Fisher. Fisher donated $10,000 to Cramer's campaign and was also Cramer's guest at the 2018 State of the Union Address, where he shook Trump's hand. In December 2019, Fisher Industries and the Fisher Sand and Gravel subsidiary, run by a Trump donor, were awarded the $400 million contract. Fisher Sand & Gravel had been previously fined $1.16 million for violating tax laws, and racked up 1,300 air-quality violations and over $625,000 in fines.

In October 2019, Cramer defended Trump's decision to host the G7 conference at the Trump National Doral Miami, a resort Trump owns. Cramer said, "I don’t have any concerns about it other than just politically how it appears", and praised Trump for the "tremendous integrity in his boldness and his transparency" in deciding to select his own property for the summit. Lack of support from Trump's Republican allies who were weary of defending him led Trump to quickly abandon his plans, as customary congressional support withered.

In December 2019, at Trump's request, Cramer cast the only vote against a Senate motion to recognize the Armenian genocide, passage of which required unanimous consent. Trump opposed the motion because of his relationship with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Senator Lindsey Graham had voted against such a motion previously, but refused to do so after Trump withdrew of a contingent of U.S. troops, allowing the Turks to attack the US's Kurdish allies who had rolled back the Islamic State in Syria's forces.

On March 24, 2020, Cramer tweeted that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was “retarded.” He later deleted the tweet and apologized, saying he had intended to write “ridiculous”, blaming autocorrect and his "fat fingers".

After Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election and Trump refused to concede and made numerous baseless claims of fraud, Cramer at first defended Trump but later said "the election was not stolen" and that he had "moved on a long time ago". In May 2022, Cramer expressed support for former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's potential candidacy in the 2024 Republican presidential primary. In June 2023, Cramer endorsed North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum for president .

Committee assignments

For the 116th United States Congress, Cramer was named to five Senate committees. They are:

Personal life

Cramer and his wife Kris have five children and five grandchildren as of 2018. ..... They had earlier adopted the young son of an ex-girlfriend of Isaac's, who had been killed by her abusive husband.

Cramer co-chairs the Roughrider Honor Flight program. This program gives World War II veterans the chance to visit the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C.

In June 2022, Cramer suffered a serious injury to his right hand while doing yard work. The injury required immediate surgery and he remained in North Dakota due to a high risk of infection and the possible need for finger amputation.

In December 2023, his son Ian stole his mother's car and engaged in a high-speed pursuit that ended when Ian collided the car into a police vehicle, killing a deputy.

Electoral history

Republican primary results, North Dakota, 2012
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Kevin Cramer 54,405 54.4
Republican Brian Kalk 45,415 45.5
Write-in 113 0.1
Total votes 99,933 100.0
North Dakota's at-large congressional district, 2012
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Kevin Cramer 173,585 54.89% +0.15%
Democratic-NPL Pam Gulleson 131,870 41.70% -3.23%
Libertarian Eric Olson 10,261 3.24% N/A
Write-in 508 0.16% -0.17%
Total votes 316,224 100.0% N/A
Republican hold
Republican primary results, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Kevin Cramer 50,188 99.70
Write-in 151 00.30
Total votes 50,339 100
North Dakota's at-large congressional district, 2014
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Kevin Cramer (incumbent) 138,100 55.54% +0.67%
Democratic-NPL George B. Sinner 95,678 38.48% -3.24%
Libertarian Jack Seaman 14,531 5.84% +2.59%
Write-in 361 0.15% -0.01%
Total votes 248,670 100.0% N/A
Republican hold
Republican primary results, 2016
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Kevin Cramer (incumbent) 96,357 99.1
Write-in 919 0.9
Total votes 97,276 100.0
North Dakota's at-large congressional district, 2016
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Kevin Cramer (incumbent) 233,980 69.13% +13.59%
Democratic-NPL Chase Iron Eyes 80,377 23.75% -14.73%
Libertarian Jack Seaman 23,528 6.95% +1.11%
Write-in 574 0.17% +0.02%
Total votes 338,459 100.0% N/A
Republican hold
Republican primary results, North Dakota 2018
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Kevin Cramer 61,529 87.8%
Republican Thomas O'Neill 8,509 12.2%
Write-in 95 0.14%
Total votes 70,133 100%
United States Senate election in North Dakota, 2018
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Kevin Cramer 179,720 55.11% +5.79%
Democratic-NPL Heidi Heitkamp (incumbent) 144,376 44.27% -5.97%
Write-in 2,042 0.63% N/A
Total votes 326,138 100% N/A
Republican gain from Democratic-NPL

See also

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