NEW DIGITAL AD: “EMPTY PROMISES.” As first reported by the National Journal, the Dem-NPL released a new digital ad this week, “Empty Promises,” to hold Kevin Cramer accountable for failing to protect North Dakotans’ access to affordable health care, including folks with pre-existing conditions. The ad will run statewide through Election Day as part of a dedicated five-figure digital buy on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Our take: “Kevin Cramer can spout off election-year spin all he wants, but he can’t hide from his record of repeatedly voting to undermine the current health care law and jeopardizing coverage for folks with pre-existing conditions. From voting to gut vital patient protections to accusing folks with pre-existing conditions of abusing the system, Cramer has made one thing clear: he doesn’t care about North Dakotans’ health care.”

CRAMER PLAYING “DEFENSE” ON HEALTH CARE. Cramer is running from his health care record, “play[ing] defense” with voters and trying to hide their record of jeopardizing coverage for folks with pre-existing conditions. His latest attempts? Trying to paper over his record with toothless resolutions that don’t take any concrete action to safeguard protections for folks with pre-existing conditions.

NEW POLL SHOWS HEITKAMP’S STRENGTH IN TIGHT ND SENATE RACE. This week the Dem-NPL released initial regional polling from the eastern cities (Fargo, West Fargo, Grand Forks) and the rural east, which account for 45 percent of the state’s total electorate. The data show Heitkamp with an average 14-point lead over Cramer, with Heitkamp outperforming her 2012 margin in the eastern cities. Heitkamp’s lead in these must-win regions demonstrate the race’s virtual dead heat statewide. Read the polling memo and toplines here.

HEALTH CARE IMPORTANT TO VOTERS. In the same poll, respondents chose Heitkamp by a 34-point margin when asked who will do a better job to ensure health insurance companies are required to cover pre-existing conditions and, by a 20-point margin, respondents believe Heitkamp will do a better job making sure health insurance is more affordable.


  • There is history with a Republican U.S. Senate candidate in North Dakota being given a 10-point polling margin over Heidi Heitkamp. It involves my newspaper, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, and became the state’s own “Dewey Defeats Truman” moment.
  • The Forum released a poll in late October 2012 […] that showed Fargo businessman Rick Berg leading Heitkamp by 10 points, 50 percent to 40 percent with 10 percent undecided. […]. Turns out the margin was not 10 percent, nor was it in favor of Berg. Heitkamp won the race by less than a percentage point, 50.2 to 49.3, in one of the great upsets of that political cycle.
  • But it’s telling that a respected Twin Cities pollster almost immediately took to Twitter after the NBC North Dakota poll was released and […] offered some numbers of his own that would bring the latest poll into question. DFM Research, owned by Dean Mitchell, published its own survey numbers of select areas of North Dakota that show Heitkamp outperforming her results in 2012. Why is this important? Because in 2012, DFM and Mitchell was the only polling firm to predict the outcome of the 2012 race. He consistently polled North Dakota that year and predicted a narrow victory for Heitkamp based on regional polling he did shortly before Election Day.
  • North Dakota is notoriously difficult to poll on a statewide basis and many experienced polling firms, including DFM, break the state down into specific geographic regions to get a better feel for what is happening. That was the basis of DFM’s tweets following the release of the NBC North Dakota poll.
  • [H]is research of the state shows the race is much more likely to be a tossup (which is much more near what all other public polling has shown).

BREAKING: US TRADE DEFICIT WIDENS TO $53 BILLION AS SOYBEAN EXPORTS PLUMMET AMID CHINA TRADE BATTLE. CNBC reports that soybean exports fell $1 billion for the month of August as a result of tariffs and the administration’s trade war. Yet Cramer continues to kowtow to the administration’s reckless trade war, putting his political self-interest ahead of the North Dakotans he’s supposed to represent.

#FBF: “CRAMER’S CAMPAIGN FUND USE COMES INTO QUESTION.” From KFYR on Cramer’s “morally kind of sticky” practice of paying his family with campaign funds:

  • Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., is facing reports that he is using campaign funds to pay himself and his family.
  • A report published last week in Politico and Federal Elections Commission Filings shows Cramer paid family members more than $140,000 and reimbursed himself nearly $200,000 since 2013.
  • Money in politics is a hot button issue, now Congressman Kevin Cramer might be feeling the heat.
  • “It’s the type of behavior that people have flagged in the past as just sort of part of the swamp so to speak. It’s a way that members of congress can sort of enrich themselves and their families just by virtue of their position,” said Kevin Robillard, Politico.
  • The Politico article and FEC filings also show Cramer has reimbursed himself nearly $200,000 for campaign expenses. Cramer says he errs on the side of caution to avoid spending tax payer dollars on politics.

BONUS THOUGHT: We’re always proud of our Senator, but we’re especially proud this week.