© Greg Nash
Sen. Heidi HeitkampHeidi HeitkampDems struggle with abortion litmus test Lawmakers reintroduce online sales tax bills Overnight Regulation: Senators call for 'cost-effective' regs | FCC chief unveils plans to roll back net neutrality MORE (D-N.D.) is getting a primary challenger this week.
Dustin Peyer, a firefighter, is expected to formally announce his campaign against Heitkamp on Thursday at a marijuana reform rally at the state capitol in Bismarck.
"I'm running for Senate against Heidi Heitkamp. Basically, in my opinion, on the Dem side we have a really boring primary and we can't allow that to happen anymore," Peyer told North Dakota radio station WDAY.
He added that his campaign is also "about recognizing that over 60 percent of North Dakota caucused for Bernie SandersBernie SandersDems struggle with abortion litmus test Overnight Energy: Trump set to sign offshore drilling order Meghan McCain: Obama 'a dirty capitalist like the rest of us' MORE on the Dem side."
Sanders got more than 64 percent of the state's caucus vote while Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonTrump on presidency: 'I thought it would be easier' Trump threatens to scrap 'horrible' South Korea trade deal New science-fiction book set in future where Clinton won MORE, whom Heitkamp supported, got more than 25 percent.
Pressed about why he is challenging Heitkamp, Peyer pointed to a "Medicaid for all" system and campaign finance reforms.
"Her specifically in my opinion like I say campaign finance reform," he said. "She's in there with everyone else and that's a big part of it. And we need to make sure that she's being accountable and having debates and having town halls."
Asked if he was running just so Heitkamp had a primary opponent, Peyer added that it "kind of started that way" but noted some voters are also unhappy with Heitkamp's support for some of Trump's nominees.
"As more people come out and say they're going to support me, it's really changing. You start looking at the, you know, there are people who aren't convinced on the way she voted on Trump's nominees," he told the radio station.
Heitkamp is near the top of her caucus in supporting Trump's nominees. She and Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinDems struggle with abortion litmus test Senators push 'cost-effective' reg reform Congress nears deal on help for miners MORE (D-W.Va.) were the only Democrats to vote for Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. She was also considered for a Cabinet position.
Progressives have demanded that Democrats draw a hard line against Trump's agenda, including threatening to primary senators who work with the administration.
Referring to Sanders's supporters during the 2016 election, Peyer argued that "those people need a voice."
"That's what I'm trying to represent, the people that came and showed up and let's give them a candidate," he said.
Peyer will face uphill battle against Heitkamp, who was the first Democrat to win in a statewide race in North Dakota since 2008.
Heitkamp hasn't formally said she will run for reelection in 2018, but reportedly raised $1.6 million during the first fundraising quarter of 2017.
Peyer previously ran for a state Senate in 2016. He also served as a Sanders delegate to the North Dakota Democratic-Non Partisan League convention, according to the Grand Forks Herald.