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The race for North Dakota’s open senate seat has been called “nasty” by several news outlets, and for good reason: In their ads, the candidates don’t mince words about their opponents. In one, North Dakota representative Kevin Cramer calls the Democratic incumbent, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, “an enemy of our country.” Heitkamp’s newest ad, meanwhile, makes the case that Cramer just “doesn’t get” the state’s many farmers.
In a sparsely populated state with an even lower expected voter turnout rate, Heitkamp and Cramer are fighting for votes. They must appeal to a largely agricultural community grappling with President Donald Trump’s decision to levy a 25 percent tariff on $34 billion worth of Chinese imports and another 25 percent tariff on an additional $16 billion worth of goods. China quickly retaliated with counter-tariffs on American agricultural products, including soy. That’s a major concern among North Dakota’s many soybean farmers.
The new Heitkamp ad calls Cramer out for supporting the tarrifs—and features farmers who don’t appreciate his rhetoric about their ability to weather hardship and emerge from the tariff war unscathed. “When you hear Kevin Cramer talk about why he supports the trade war, he criticizes farmers,” says Charles Linderman, a North Dakota soybean farmer featured in the ad.