Rep. Armstrong Wins North Dakota’s Gubernatorial Primary

Rep. Armstrong Wins North Dakota’s Gubernatorial Primary
Republican members of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, including Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), hold a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on May 10, 2023. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.) won North Dakota’s GOP gubernatorial primary, setting the stage for a strong performance in the heavily Republican state’s November general election.

He defeated Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller in the June 11 contest.

Mr. Armstrong’s running mate for lieutenant governor was Josh Teigen, commissioner of the state’s Department of Commerce. Ms. Miller’s was Michelle Strinden, a member of the North Dakota House of Representatives

The Associated Press called the race for Mr. Armstrong at 9:21 p.m. ET with 24 percent of the vote counted.

In November’s general election, Mr. Armstrong will face Merrill Piepkorn of the North Dakota Democratic-Nonpartisan League Party, the presumptive nominee in the Democratic slot. Fellow Democrat Travis Hipsher withdrew from the race in late March, shortly before Mr. Piepkorn announced his candidacy.

U.S. Air Force veteran Michael Coachman, also in the running for governor as an independent, was absent from primary ballots.

North Dakota has had an unbroken chain of Republican governors since 1992, when George Sinner left office. That means Mr. Armstrong is well positioned to clinch the state’s governorship in a few months.

Gov. Doug Burgum (R), the software entrepreneur and real estate developer who currently serves as North Dakota’s state executive, is one of the top contenders to be former President Donald Trump’s running mate in November.

South of Mr. Burgum’s border in the other Dakota, Gov. Kristi Noem was also once talked up as a vice presidential prospect—but she failed to make a recently reported vice presidential shortlist.

Mr. Coachman, the independent candidate, led a failed effort to recall Mr. Burgum two years ago.

Mr. Burgum announced in January, several weeks after dropping out of the presidential primary race, that he would not run for a third term.

Doug Burgum
Republican presidential candidate North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum speaks during the Florida Freedom Summit held at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee, Fla., on Nov. 4, 2023. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

That set the stage for Mr. Armstrong, who announced soon after that he would not seek reelection to North Dakota’s at-large district and would instead run for governor. The competitive June 11 GOP primary to fill his seat pitted North Dakota Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak against real estate developer and plastic surgeon Dr. Rick Becker.

Other candidates who vied for the slot included Alex Balazs, a farmer who served as a foreign service officer for the U.S. Department of State, as well as activist Sharlet Mohr, and Cara Mund, who was Miss America in 2018. Ms. Mund lost as an independent to Mr. Armstrong in the 2022 general election for her state’s at-large House seat.

Polling ahead of the June 11 primary generally showed Mr. Armstrong ahead of Ms. Miller by a wide margin. A North Dakota News Cooperative poll in late May showed him with 57 percent of the vote to 19 percent for Ms. Miller.

North Dakotans also weighed in on a range of local candidates and ballot questions along with less competitive statewide primaries—for example, for state treasurer, where the incumbent, Republican Thomas Beadle, faced no challengers from his own party or from the Democrats.

Voters in the state are also deciding on a ballot measure to cap the age of members of the United States Congress. It would prevent people from serving in either chamber if they were on pace to reach 81 years of age in the penultimate year of their term.

In 2023, Mr. Armstrong told The Epoch Times that the fracking revolution super-charged the economy in the state where he grew up, though he said he was glad the initial boom had stabilized.

“Now, you have an opportunity to grow a life,” he said, describing North Dakota today as “rural but not desolate.”

From The Epoch Times