- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 9, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota lived up to its reliably red reputation Tuesday, electing a Republican governor and adding to the GOP’s already robust majority in the Legislature. Voters overwhelmingly backed Donald Trump on Tuesday, and the two North Dakota Republicans in Congress cruised to easy victories over their Democratic counterparts. Voters also approved four ballot measures, including one that will allow residents to possess a small amount of marijuana for medical purposes, which GOP lawmakers previously had rebuffed.



Republican Doug Burgum won the governorship Tuesday in a lopsided victory over a sparsely funded Democratic challenger and without the backing of the state’s GOP establishment.

Burgum will take power Dec. 15 against the backdrop of a state economy that has cooled as oil and crop prices have slumped, and where international attention is focused on a contentious protest over an oil pipeline.

Burgum’s biggest challenge came in the primary, when he beat Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem after Stenehjem won the party’s backing at the group’s state convention.

Burgum raised more than $1.6 million during the campaign - most of which he spent in the primary. He also poured in some personal money, though he wouldn’t say how much.

Nelson raised about $100,000.



Hillary Clinton was no match for Donald Trump in North Dakota, a state not carried by a Democrat since 1964. Trump easily beat Clinton on Tuesday, even though he wasn’t always the choice of the party faithful in the state. Trump came off second best to Ted Cruz at the state GOP convention in April, although most of those delegates and the GOP establishment got behind Trump after Cruz folded his campaign in May. Trump visited North Dakota just once - that same month at an oil industry conference in Bismarck - and Clinton didn’t come at all, instead sending Bill Clinton to a Fargo rally in May. Since North Dakota became a state in 1889, Republican candidates have swept its electoral votes in 26 of 32 presidential elections. No Democrat has carried North Dakota since Lyndon B. Johnson did so in 1964.



Of the five initiated measures on the North Dakota ballot, four were approved.

A measure requiring that elected state lawmakers live in the district they represent won handily, ending a practice that has been commonplace for many years. Voters also approved a measure that is billed to bolster the rights of crime victims and a proposal to allow medical marijuana.

Voters also decided to allow lawmakers to tap the state’s “foundation aid stabilization fund” for education-related purposes.

The only measure that failed was a proposal to raise tobacco taxes, something the state has not done in nearly 25 years. That plan would have raised the state’s 44-cent cigarette tax to $2.20.



Republicans strengthened their muscle at the state Capitol, winning seven but losing only one seat to bolster their already strong majority in the North Dakota Senate, including toppling the Democratic minority leader, Mac Schneider

In the House, Republicans lost one seat but won 11 others, including the one held by House Minority Leader Kenton Onstad and that of the state Democratic party’s chairwoman, Kylie Oversen.

Republicans already held supermajority control of the Legislature, with a 32-15 edge in the Senate and a 71-23 majority in the House.


Kolpack reported from Fargo.

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