|United States Senator|
from North Dakota
January 3, 2019
Serving with John Hoeven
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from North Dakota's at-large district
January 3, 2013 - January 3, 2019
|Member of the North Dakota Public Service Commission|
August 1, 2003 - December 31, 2012
|Chair of the |
North Dakota Republican Party
July 1991 - May 1993
Kevin John Cramer
January 21, 1961
Rolette, North Dakota, U.S.
Kris Cramer (m. 1986)
|Education||Concordia College, Minnesota (BA)|
University of Mary (MA)
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 previously served in the United States House of Representatives for North Dakota's at-large Congressional District. 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.
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.
After college, Cramer campaigned for an unsuccessful Republican tax commissioner candidate in 1984. In 1986 he campaigned for U.S. Senator Mark Andrews's bid for reelection. Andrews lost to North Dakota Democratic-Nonpartisan League Party U.S. Senator Kent Conrad. Conrad's party is the North Dakota affiliate of the Democratic Party. Cramer went on to work for the state Republican Party.
In May 1993, Republican governor Ed Schafer appointed Cramer state tourism director, preceded by Jim Fuglie and succeeded by Bob Martinson. He served in that position until he was appointed Economic Development Director in June 1997, preceded by Chuck Stroup and succeeded by Lee Peterson in December 2000. In 1996 House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas, a North Dakota native, persuaded Cramer to challenge Democratic U.S. Congressman Earl Pomeroy in North Dakota's at-large congressional district. Pomeroy defeated him 55-43%. In 1998 Cramer faced Pomeroy in a rematch. Pomeroy defeated him again, this time by a margin of 56-41%.
Following his stint as director of economic development, Cramer became director of the Harold Schafer Leadership Foundation. He served in that position until he was appointed to the Public Service Commission by Republican governor John Hoeven. Cramer was elected to a six-year term in 2004 when he defeated NPL nominee Ron Gumeringer 65-35%.
On January 14, 2010, Cramer announced that he would run for the North Dakota seat in the United States House of Representatives in the 2010 election. He was very visible in early 2010 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. He did not receive the nomination at the state Republican Party convention in March 2010, losing to former House Majority Leader Rick Berg.
Later in 2010, Cramer won reelection to a second term on the Public Service Commission, defeating Democratic candidate Brad Crabtree 61-35%.
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."
In October 2019, Cramer defended Trump's decision to host the G7 conference at the Trump National Doral Miami, a resort that Trump himself 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.
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 was "one of a handful of early Trump endorsers" among U.S. House Republicans.
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. In 2019 Cramer said he favored lawsuits seeking to overturn Obamacare.
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.
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 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 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.
In 2012, one-term incumbent U.S. Representative Rick Berg retired in order to unsuccessfully 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.
Cramer 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%. A Libertarian candidate, Jack Seaman, received slightly under 6%.
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."
Cramer secured the Republican nomination for the United States Senate on June 12, 2018.
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 U.S. Army Corps to use a North Dakota firm run by someone who donated to Cramer's 2018 campaign.
|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|
|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