Kevin Cramer

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.

Kevin Cramer
United States Senator
from North Dakota
Assumed office
January 3, 2019
Serving with John Hoeven
Preceded byHeidi 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 byRick Berg
Succeeded byKelly Armstrong
Member of the North Dakota Public Service Commission
In office
August 1, 2003  December 31, 2012
Preceded byLeo Reinbold
Succeeded byJulie Fedorchak
Chair of the
North Dakota Republican Party
In office
July 1991  May 1993
Preceded byLayton Freborg
Succeeded byJohn Korsmo
Personal details
Kevin John Cramer

(1961-01-21) January 21, 1961
Rolette, North Dakota, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Kris Cramer (m. 1986)
EducationConcordia College, Minnesota (BA)
University of Mary (MA)
WebsiteSenate website

Early life, education, and family

Cramer was born in Rolette, North Dakota, the first of five children of Clarice (Hjelden) and Richard Cramer.[1] 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.[2]

Cramer and his wife, Kris, have five children[3] and five grandchildren.[4]

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.[5]

Early political career

After college, Cramer campaigned for an unsuccessful Republican tax commissioner candidate in 1984.[6] 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.[7]

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.[6]

In May 1993, Republican governor Ed Schafer appointed Cramer state tourism director.[8] and succeeded by Bob Martinson[9]. He served in that position until he was appointed Economic Development Director in June 1997.[10] Cramer was succeeded by Lee Peterson in December 2000.[11][12]

Following his stint as director of economic development, Cramer became director of the Harold Schafer Leadership Foundation in 2000. He served in that position until 2003.[13]

North Dakota Public Service Commission (2003-2012)

In 2003, Cramer was appointed to the Public Service Commission by Republican governor John Hoeven.[14]

Cramer was elected to a six-year term on the Public Service Commission in 2004; he defeated NPL nominee Ron Gumeringer, 65–35%.[15]

In 2010, Cramer was reelected to a second term on the Public Service Commission, defeating Democratic candidate Brad Crabtree 61–35%.[16] He served on the commission until 2012.[17]

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%.[18]


In 1998, Cramer faced Pomeroy in a rematch. Pomeroy defeated him again, 56–41%.[19]


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.[20] In early 2010, he appeared at North Dakota town hall meetings, where he opposed the Affordable Care Act.[21] Cramer attended numerous Tea Party rallies in North Dakota, where he spoke about energy, taxes, jobs and the U.S. Constitution.[22] 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.[23] In the Republican primary election in June 2012, Cramer received 54,405 votes (54%) to Kalk's 45,415 (45%).[24]

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.[25]

Cramer was sworn in on January 3, 2013.[26]


In 2014 Cramer ran for reelection and was unopposed in the Republican primary.[27] 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%.[28]


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.[29][30]

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.[31][32] 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.[33] 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.'"[34][35] In the same speech, Cramer said of U.S. society: "We have normalized perversion and perverted God's natural law."[33]

Donald Trump

Cramer was "one of a handful of early Trump endorsers" among U.S. House Republicans.[36]

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."[37] He has been described as one of Trump's allies in Congress and pledged to be with Trump "100 percent of the time".[38]

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."[39]

Environment and energy

Cramer rejects the scientific consensus on climate change.[40][41] He has said that he would support a small carbon tax if the revenue went to research and development on clean fuel.[40][41][42] Reuters has described Cramer as "one of America's most ardent drilling advocates."[43] 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.[44] In May 2016 Trump asked Cramer to draft his campaign's energy policy.[43] 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.[45]

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.[46][47]

Gun policy

Cramer said that gun control would not have prevented the Orlando nightclub shooting.[48] In 2016 he criticized proposed gun control legislation, saying, "The problem isn't the U.S. Constitution. The problem is Islamic terrorism."[49]

Health care

Cramer opposes the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and has voted to repeal it without a replacement five times.[50][51][52] He has voted against health insurance protections for patients with preexisting conditions and against the expansion of Medicaid.[52] 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.[53]

LGBT issues

Cramer opposes same-sex marriage and condemned the Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.[54][55][56][57]

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.[58] 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.[59]


Cramer has voted to repeal the estate tax, which imposes a tax after the first several million dollars on a dead person's estate.[60] 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.[61][62]

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."[63][64] He later issued a statement apologizing for his "tone and rhetoric" during the exchange.[63] Cramer voted to reauthorize VAWA,[65] 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."[66] Cramer asked, "How could a non-Native man get a fair trial on a reservation?"[66] and questioned the constitutionality of the provision. He voted for an amendment to repeal it.[65]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

U.S. Senate



After months of speculation, Cramer announced on January 11, 2018,[70] 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.[71] But on February 15, 2018, he announced that he had changed his mind and would run for the Senate.[72] Odney advertising firm president Pat Finken served as Cramer's campaign manager.[73] On April 7,[74] 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.[75]

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.[76] Cramer later publicly criticized White House staff and argued that Trump was refraining from criticizing Heitkamp because she was a woman.[76] 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."[77]

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.[57] 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".[57] He also agreed that "public schools should be 'prevented from brainwashing elementary school children with the Homosexual Agenda.'"[57] Cramer supported requiring schools to teach that there are only two genders and granting Christian businesses the right to not service same-sex weddings.[57] 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."[57]

Cramer secured the Republican nomination for the United States Senate on June 12, 2018.[78]

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.[79]

In the November 6, 2018, general election, Cramer defeated Heitkamp[80] with 55% of the vote to Heitkamp's 45%.[81]


In July 2019, Cramer said he favored lawsuits seeking to overturn Obamacare.[82]

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.[83] In December 2019, Fisher Industries and the Fisher Sand and Gravel subsidiary were awarded the $400 million contract.[84]

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.[85]

In December 2019, Cramer single-handedly blocked a Senate motion to recognize the Armenian Genocide.[86][87]

Committee assignments

On December 20, 2018, Cramer was named to five Senate committees.[88][89]

Electoral history

Republican primary results[90]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Kevin Cramer 54,405 54.4
Republican Brian Kalk 45,415 45.5
n/a Write-ins 113 0.1
Total votes 99,933 100.0
North Dakota's At-large congressional district, 2012[90]
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
n/a Write-ins 508 0.16% -0.17%
Total votes 316,224 100.0% N/A
Republican hold
Republican primary results[91]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Kevin Cramer 50,188 99.70
Republican Write-in 151 00.30
Total votes 50,339 100
North Dakota's at-large congressional district, 2014[92]
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%
n/a Write-ins 361 0.15% -0.01%
Total votes 248,670 100.0% N/A
Republican hold
Republican primary results[93]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Kevin Cramer (incumbent) 96,357 99.1
Republican Write-ins 919 0.9
Total votes 97,276 100.0
North Dakota's at-large congressional district, 2016 [94]
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%
n/a Write-ins 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 87.73%
Republican Thomas O'Neill 8,509 12.13%
Write-in 95 0.14%
Total votes 70,133 100%
United States Senate election in North Dakota, 2018[95]
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


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  32. Cramer Statement on Planned Parenthood Abortion Practices (press release), Office of U.S. Representative (July 16, 2015).
  33. Amanda Terkel, Kevin Cramer, North Dakota Congressman, Ties School Shootings to Abortion Legalization, The Huffington Post (May 16, 2013).
  34. Natasha Burton, Another Day, Another Crazy Abortion Claim from a Conservative Male Politician, Cosmopolitan (May 17, 2013).
  35. US Rep. Cramer Criticized For Linking Legalized Abortion To School Shootings, Associated Press (May 21, 2013).
  36. Mike DeBonis, Paul Ryan faces intense pressure to reconcile with Donald Trump, The Washington Post (May 11, 2016).
  37. Blake, Aaron (January 31, 2017). "Whip Count: Here's where Republicans stand on Trump's controversial travel ban". Washington Post.
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  39. "GOP lawmaker: 'Poorly dressed' Democratic women wore 'bad-looking white pantsuits'". Politico. Retrieved 2017-03-01.
  40. Ben Schreckinger, Trump acknowledges climate change — at his golf course, Politico (May 23, 2016).
  41. 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).
  42. 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).
  43. Valerie Volcovici, Trump taps climate change skeptic, fracking advocate as key energy advisor, Reuters (May 13, 2016).
  44. Mark Drajem, Get your energy policy ideas to Kevin Cramer ASAP, Bloomberg Government (May 16, 2016).
  45. Ashley Parker & Coral Davenport, Donald Trump's Energy Plan: More Fossil Fuels and Fewer Rules, (May 26, 2016).
  46. Igor Bobic, GOP Rep. Quotes Bible On Food Stamps: 'If Anyone Is Not Willing To Work, Let Him Not Eat', TalkingPointsMemo (September 20, 2013).
  47. Rep. Cramer's opponents use Bible verses to debate food stamp cuts, look toward 2014 election, Grand Forks Herald (September 25, 2013).
  48. Ted Fioraliso, Cramer says increased gun control wouldn't have prevented Orlando shooting, KFYR-TV (July 14, 2016).
  49. Nick Smith, Hoeven, Cramer give gun legislation cool response, Bismarck Tribune (June 21, 2016).
  50. John Hageman, State leaders have mixed feelings in Affordable Care Act ruling, Grand Forks Herald (June 25, 2015).
  51. U.S. House Votes to Repeal Obamacare (press release), Office of U.S. Representative Kevin Cramer (February 3, 2015).
  52. "Cramer's office threatens constituents". High Plains Reader, Fargo ND. Retrieved 2018-09-15.
  53. "Analysis | Would the House GOP plan have prevented 'price discrimination' against people with preexisting conditions?". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-09-23.
  54. Krista Boehm, The first same-sex couple to grab their marriage license, KVLY-TV (June 26, 2015).
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  95. "OFFICIAL (WITHOUT RECOUNTS) 2018 GENERAL ELECTION RESULTS". External link in |website= (help)
Party political offices
Preceded by
Layton Freborg
Chair of the North Dakota Republican Party
Succeeded by
John Korsmo
Preceded by
Rick Berg
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from North Dakota
(Class 1)

Most recent
Political offices
Preceded by
Jim Fuglie
Tourism Director of North Dakota
Succeeded by
Bob Martinson
Preceded by
Chuck Stroup
Economic Development Director of North Dakota
Succeeded by
Lee Peterson
Preceded by
Leo Reinbold
Member of the North Dakota Public Service Commission
Succeeded by
Julie Fedorchak
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Rick Berg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Dakota's at-large congressional district

Succeeded by
Kelly Armstrong
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Heidi Heitkamp
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from North Dakota
Served alongside: John Hoeven
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Kyrsten Sinema
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Martha McSally
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