Senator Heidi Heitkamp Is Still Raising a Lot More Money Than Her Opponent Kevin Cramer


Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., left, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., share a light moment on statge during a question and answer session during the Lignite Energy Council's annual meeting at the Bismarck Event Center on Thursday. 4-5-2018

Polling numbers of late in North Dakota’s Senate race have been good for Congressman Kevin Cramer, but the most recent fundraising numbers favor Senator Heidi Heitkamp.

Both candidates have filed their pre-primary reports with the FEC, covering money raised between April 1 and May 23 of this year, and while Cramer has talked about catching up with the incumbent financially he’s still falling behind.

Heitkamp netted $700,195.08 in the reporting period, and has raised $9,468,809.51 so far in the election cycle. She ended the reporting period with $5,218,517.60 in cash on hand.

Cramer, meanwhile, netted $551,554.96 during the reporting period, and has raised $2,290,132.18 so far in the election cycle. He ended the pre-primary reporting period with $1,953,661.40 in cash on hand.

Cramer hasn’t had to raise a lot of campaign money in recent years. In the 2014 and 2016 election cycles he faced cream puff candidates George Sinner and Chase Iron Eyes, respectively, neither of whom were able to make the race all that competitive. Cramer was also late getting into the Senate race, initially declining to run before reversing that decision, so it’s understandable that Heitkamp would have the money advantage right now. After all, she’s been fundraising steadily since she was last on the ballot way back in 2012.

You can also argue that, in this race, we may reach a point of diminishing returns in terms of campaign fundraising. North Dakota is a small media market. There are really only so many ways to spend the money. Beyond a certain level of campaign spending the market becomes saturated with messaging and more spending doesn’t move the needle.

Still, Cramer has enjoyed the wide (and accurate, I believe) perception that his entrance into this race made it immediately competitive. He needs strong fundraising numbers to maintain that perception.

I’m not sure these numbers he’s putting up are all that strong.

As for where the money came from, Senator Heitkamp had $431,561.53 in itemized, individual contributions of which $64,129 or about 14.8 percent came from North Dakotans. The rest came from out of state.

Cramer, meanwhile, received a total of $456,550.00 in itemized, individual contributions including $98,940 from North Dakotans or about 21.7 percent.