Hoeven to face newcomer Christiansen in search of 3rd term

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — U.S. Sen. John Hoeven easily won North Dakota’s Republican primary Tuesday, coasting past an unknown and poorly funded political neophyte ahead of a November matchup when he’s again likely to be a heavy favorite.

Hoeven defeated Riley Kuntz, an oil field worker who said Hoeven had been in Washington far too long but who raised less than $5,000 for his long-shot bid. Hoeven, seeking his third term, raised more than $3.2 million in the run-up to the primary.

He’s set to face Democrat Katrina Christiansen, a political newcomer and University of Jamestown engineering professor who carried her party’s endorsement as she defeated Michael Steele, a Fargo art and antiques dealer.

Both Christiansen and Steele were largely unknown outside their hometowns, and raised little money — about $21,000 by Christiansen and $2,100 by Steele.

Hoeven won both of his previous Senate terms with more than 76% of the vote. He was first elected to the Senate in 2010, succeeding longtime Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan, who retired.

In other races, state Rep. Michael Howe won the Republican primary for secretary of state, beating political newcomer Marvin Lepp, and will face Democrat Jeffrey Powell in November. The winner will replace Republican Al Jaeger, who chose not to run again after holding the post for 30 years.

GOP U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong, seeking a second term, will face Democrat Mark Haugen of Bismarck, a University of Mary graduate adviser who has long worked as a paramedic. Both were unopposed in their primaries.

Hoeven was first elected governor in 2000 after seven years as president of the state-owned Bank of North Dakota. In 2008, he became the first person ever elected to a third four-year term as North Dakota’s chief executive. A former Democrat, Hoeven switched parties four years before his first successful gubernatorial run.

Hoeven got a scare at the GOP convention in April when he narrowly won the GOP endorsement of delegates over the leader of the ultraconservative wing of the party. Bismarck state Rep. Rick Becker painted Hoeven as a big-spending, big-government politician who had lost touch with his conservative base.

Hoeven, 65, countered by touting his involvement in North Dakota’s economic development and highlighted his opposition to most of President Joe Biden’s policies. Hoeven got a video message of support from former President Donald Trump.

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The story has been updated to correct the spelling of Katrina Christiansen’s last name.

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