North Dakota voters were set to choose their next governor on Tuesday. U.S. Senate and House races were on the ballot, as were legislative races, and the state was joining the rest of the country in deciding the long and bitter presidential race. Several ballot questions also loomed, including whether the state should approve medical marijuana and raise tobacco taxes.
Republican and former Microsoft executive Doug Burgum was the favorite over Rep. Marvin Nelson of Rolla in a state that hasn’t had a Democrat as governor since 1992.
Burgum’s biggest challenge likely came in the primary, when he challenged and beat Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem after Stenehjem won the party’s backing at the group’s state convention.
One sign of a mismatch came on the money side, where Burgum raised more than $1.6 million – most of which he spent in the primary. Burgum also poured in some personal money, though he wouldn’t say how much.
Nelson raised about $100,000.
The race focused on qualifications to lead the state amid declining oil and crop revenues.
History made Democrat Hillary Clinton a longshot to topple Republican Donald Trump in North Dakota, which hasn’t backed a Democrat since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
Trump made a campaign stop in May at an oil industry conference in Bismarck. Clinton did not campaign in North Dakota, but former President Bill Clinton in May rallied for his wife in Fargo.
A California businessman put more than $2.3 million into a North Dakota measure that would incorporate victims’ rights provisions into the state constitution. North Dakota was one of a handful of states considering so-called Marsy’s Law measures that would require such things as crime victims’ being notified about the release of an attacker.
Opponents of the measure raised about $12,000.
Another measure would raise the state’s 44-cent cigarette tax to $2.20. Tax on other tobacco products, including liquid nicotine for electronic cigarettes, would increase from 28 percent to 56 percent. New tax revenues created through the measure would go toward health-related programs.
North Dakota voters also are deciding whether to legalize medical marijuana. Residents would be allowed to buy from a state-regulated system of dispensaries if a doctor recommended its use for pain relief.
North Dakota Republican Sen. John Hoeven sought a second term against former Democratic state Sen. Eliot Glassheim, who entered the race at the last minute and struggled to raise money.
Hoeven, the only governor in state history to win three four-year terms, easily won the seat in 2010.
Republican U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer faced attorney and Native American activist Chase Iron Eyes. Cramer was hoping for a third term. Iron Eyes, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, hoped to defeat Cramer by mobilizing the Native American vote.
Republicans’ supermajority control of the Legislature is likely to remain after Tuesday’s election. The GOP has a 32-15 edge in the Senate and a 71-23 majority in the House.
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