Kevin John Cramer (born January 21, 1961) is an American politician serving as the junior United States Senator for North Dakota since 2019. A member of the Republican Party, he served in the United States House of Representatives for North Dakota's at-large Congressional District from 2013 to 2019. He also chaired the North Dakota Republican Party (1991–1993) and served as State Tourism Director (1993–1997) and Economic Development Director (1997–2000). He served on the North Dakota Public Service Commission from 2003 to 2012.
|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
January 3, 2013 – January 3, 2019
|Preceded by||Rick Berg|
|Succeeded by||Kelly Armstrong|
|Member of the North Dakota Public Service Commission|
August 1, 2003 – December 31, 2012
|Preceded by||Leo Reinbold|
|Succeeded by||Julie Fedorchak|
|Chair of the |
North Dakota Republican Party
July 1991 – May 1993
|Preceded by||Layton Freborg|
|Succeeded by||John Korsmo|
Kevin John Cramer
January 21, 1961
Rolette, North Dakota, U.S.
Kris Cramer (m. 1986)
|Education||Concordia College, Minnesota (BA)|
University of Mary (MA)
Early life, education, and family
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. Cramer 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.
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.
Early political career
After college, Cramer campaigned for an unsuccessful Republican tax commissioner candidate 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 on 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. and succeeded by Bob Martinson. He served in that position until he was appointed Economic Development Director in June 1997. Cramer was succeeded by Lee Peterson in December 2000.
North Dakota Public Service Commission (2003-2012)
U.S. House of Representatives (2013–2019)
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%.
On January 14, 2010, 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, where he spoke about energy, taxes, jobs and the U.S. Constitution. At the state Republican Party convention in March 2010, former House Majority Leader Rick Berg was nominated as the Republican congressional candidate.
In 2012, Representative Rick 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, receiving 173,585 votes (55%) to Gulleson's 131,870 (42%). Libertarian Party candidate Eric Olson received about 3% of the vote.
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%. A 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.
Tenure and political positions
Cramer opposes abortion. He is a critic of Planned Parenthood and has called for cutting off public funding of the group. In 2013 Cramer condemned the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade and tied an uptick in mass shootings to the legalization of abortion and a decline in religious values. This remark was criticized by the director of the North Dakota Democratic Party and in Cosmopolitan. Cramer said, "I was asked recently by a reporter if I am afraid that some people would attack me if I speak like this. And I said, 'No, I am not afraid they will, I am quite certain they will.'" In the same speech, Cramer said of U.S. society: "We have normalized perversion and perverted God's natural law."
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 President 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 against 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."
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.
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.
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."
Cramer opposes the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and has 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.
Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh
In 2018, Cramer said that both Anita Hill's sexual harassment allegation against Clarence Thomas and Christine Blasey Ford's sexual assault allegation against Brett Kavanaugh were "absurd". He called Ford's allegation "even more absurd" than Hill's because the sexual assault that Ford described "never went anywhere" and because both Kavanaugh and Ford were intoxicated teenagers. Cramer questioned whether Ford's allegation would disqualify Kavanaugh from the Supreme Court even if found to be 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.
Violence Against Women Act
In 2013, at a forum on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), Cramer engaged in "a testy exchange with Native American victim assistance leaders." He later issued a statement apologizing for his "tone and rhetoric" during the exchange. Cramer voted to reauthorize VAWA, but opposed language in the act that would allow tribal courts to prosecute non-Natives "for abusing or assaulting Native American women on Indian land." Cramer asked, "How could a non-Native man get a fair trial on a reservation?" and questioned the constitutionality of the provision. He voted for an amendment to repeal it.
After months of speculation, Cramer announced on January 11, 2018, 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. But on February 15, 2018, 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 secured the official endorsement of the North Dakota Republican Party. 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 President Trump had not publicly criticized incumbent Democratic senator Heidi Heitkamp in the same way that he had criticized other Democrats. Cramer later publicly criticized White House staff and argued that Trump was refraining from criticizing Heitkamp because she was a woman. Trump scheduled a June 2018 trip to North Dakota 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."
During his 2018 campaign, Cramer sought and received the support of the Public Advocate of the United States, an anti-LGBT group that advocates conversion therapy and ties homosexuality to pedophilia. In an eight-question survey for the group, Cramer said he would oppose "'Transgender Bathrooms' legislation and regulations—which have the effect of encouraging and protecting pedophiles". He also agreed 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 Cramer 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. Additionally, Kevin does not think transgender people are at all comparable to pedophiles—this a gross misinterpretation of the survey question."
In July 2018, a spokesman for the political network organized by the Koch brothers announced that they would not financially support Cramer's campaign because the brothers viewed Cramer as insufficiently supportive of free trade and fiscal conservatism, and because Cramer held other views inconsistent with theirs.
In 2019, Cramer 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 Cramer's 2018 campaign donor Tommy Fisher. In December 2019, Fisher Industries and the Fisher Sand and Gravel subsidiary were awarded the $400 million contract.
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 then praised Trump for the "tremendous integrity in his boldness and his transparency" in deciding to select his own property for the summit.
|Republican||Kevin Cramer (incumbent)||138,100||55.54%||+0.67%|
|Democratic-NPL||George B. Sinner||95,678||38.48%||-3.24%|
|Republican||Kevin Cramer (incumbent)||96,357||99.1|
|Republican||Kevin Cramer (incumbent)||233,980||69.13%||+13.59%|
|Democratic-NPL||Chase Iron Eyes||80,377||23.75%||-14.73%|
|Democratic-NPL||Heidi Heitkamp (incumbent)||144,376||44.27%||-5.97%|
|Republican gain from Democratic-NPL|
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- Mark Trahant, Chase Iron Eyes Runs In North Dakota Out of 'Necessity', Indian Country Today Media Network (April 3, 2016).
- Kevin Cramer: North Dakota women not profitable for Planned Parenthood (video of statement on U.S. House of Representatives floor, made available by Getty Images).
- Cramer Statement on Planned Parenthood Abortion Practices (press release), Office of U.S. Representative (July 16, 2015).
- Amanda Terkel, Kevin Cramer, North Dakota Congressman, Ties School Shootings to Abortion Legalization, The Huffington Post (May 16, 2013).
- Natasha Burton, Another Day, Another Crazy Abortion Claim from a Conservative Male Politician, Cosmopolitan (May 17, 2013).
- US Rep. Cramer Criticized For Linking Legalized Abortion To School Shootings, Associated Press (May 21, 2013).
- Mike DeBonis, Paul Ryan faces intense pressure to reconcile with Donald Trump, The Washington Post (May 11, 2016).
- Blake, Aaron (January 31, 2017). "Whip Count: Here's where Republicans stand on Trump's controversial travel ban". Washington Post.
- "Trump endorses Kevin Cramer and urges North Dakota to vote out Heidi Heitkamp". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2018-09-15.
- "GOP lawmaker: 'Poorly dressed' Democratic women wore 'bad-looking white pantsuits'". Politico. Retrieved 2017-03-01.
- Ben Schreckinger, Trump acknowledges climate change — at his golf course, Politico (May 23, 2016).
- Ashley Park & Coral Davenport, New York Times: What Are Donald Trump's Views on Climate Change? Some Clues Emerge, New York Times (May 26, 2016).
- Evan Lehmann, Meet Donald Trump's New Energy Adviser: Kevin Cramer calls himself a climate-change skeptic yet he might support a carbon tax, ClimateWire (republished by Scientific American) (May 13, 2016).
- Valerie Volcovici, Trump taps climate change skeptic, fracking advocate as key energy advisor, Reuters (May 13, 2016).
- Mark Drajem, Get your energy policy ideas to Kevin Cramer ASAP, Bloomberg Government (May 16, 2016).
- Ashley Parker & Coral Davenport, Donald Trump's Energy Plan: More Fossil Fuels and Fewer Rules, (May 26, 2016).
- Igor Bobic, GOP Rep. Quotes Bible On Food Stamps: 'If Anyone Is Not Willing To Work, Let Him Not Eat', TalkingPointsMemo (September 20, 2013).
- Rep. Cramer's opponents use Bible verses to debate food stamp cuts, look toward 2014 election, Grand Forks Herald (September 25, 2013).
- Ted Fioraliso, Cramer says increased gun control wouldn't have prevented Orlando shooting, KFYR-TV (July 14, 2016).
- Nick Smith, Hoeven, Cramer give gun legislation cool response, Bismarck Tribune (June 21, 2016).
- John Hageman, State leaders have mixed feelings in Affordable Care Act ruling, Grand Forks Herald (June 25, 2015).
- U.S. House Votes to Repeal Obamacare (press release), Office of U.S. Representative Kevin Cramer (February 3, 2015).
- "Cramer's office threatens constituents". High Plains Reader, Fargo ND. Retrieved 2018-09-15.
- "Analysis | Would the House GOP plan have prevented 'price discrimination' against people with preexisting conditions?". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-09-23.
- Krista Boehm, The first same-sex couple to grab their marriage license, KVLY-TV (June 26, 2015).
- Cramer Statement on Supreme Court Same Sex Marriage Ruling (press release), Office of U.S. Representative Kevin Cramer (June 26, 2015).
- Nick Smith, N.D. delegation split on gay marriage, Bismarck Tribune (June 26, 2013).
- CNN, Andrew Kaczynski,. "GOP Senate nominees Kevin Cramer, Corey Stewart sought support of extreme anti-gay group". CNN. Retrieved 2018-06-14.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
- CNN, Andrew Kaczynski and Christopher Massie,. "GOP Senate nominee: Kavanaugh accusation 'absurd' because they were drunk and assault attempt 'never went anywhere'". CNN. Retrieved 2018-09-21.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
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- Congressman Kevin Cramer (R-ND) Votes to Eliminate Constitutional Challenges to the Violence Against Women Act (press release), Office of U.S. Representative Kevin Cramer (February 28, 2013).
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- Everett, Burgess (2019-07-14). "Republicans ready to dive off a cliff on Obamacare". POLITICO. Retrieved 2019-12-03.
- "GOP senator held up Trump nominee, demanding to see border wall contracts after Army Corps panned construction firm he prefers". The Washington Post. 2019.
- Duncan, Conrad (2019-12-03). "$400 million contract for Trump's border wall handed to Republican donor who promoted firm on Fox News". The Independent. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
- Mangan, Dan (2019-10-18). "Democrats call Trump's Doral G-7 pick 'outrageous' — GOP senator says it shows 'tremendous integrity'". CNBC. Retrieved 2019-10-19.
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- "OFFICIAL (WITHOUT RECOUNTS) 2018 GENERAL ELECTION RESULTS". http://sos.nd.gov/. External link in
- Official U.S. Senate site
- Kevin Cramer for Congress
- Kevin Cramer at Curlie
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at the Library of Congress
|Party political offices|
| Chair of the North Dakota Republican Party
| Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from North Dakota
| Tourism Director of North Dakota
| Economic Development Director of North Dakota
| Member of the North Dakota Public Service Commission
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Dakota's at-large congressional district
| U.S. Senator (Class 1) from North Dakota
Served alongside: John Hoeven
|U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
| United States Senators by seniority