Cramer ousts Heitkamp in critical North Dakota Senate race

Rep. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerGraham's COVID-19 'breakthrough' case jolts Senate Biden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet Trump takes two punches from GOP MORE (R-N.D.) toppled Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampJoe Manchin's secret Supreme Court battle could wreak havoc with Biden's 2020 agenda Effective and profitable climate solutions are within the nation's farms and forests MORE (D-N.D.) in North Dakota's hotly contested Senate race on Tuesday after a hard-fought campaign that emerged as a test of Democrats' ability to hold on in deep-red territory.

From the beginning, Heitkamp was seen as one of the most vulnerable Democrats up for reelection this year. President TrumpDonald TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions The Memo: Left pins hopes on Nina Turner in Ohio after recent defeats Biden administration to keep Trump-era rule of turning away migrants during pandemic MORE won the state by nearly 36 points in 2016 and Cramer cast himself as a close ally of the president throughout his campaign.

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Still, early polls showed a close race and Heitkamp remained popular in the state.

But in the final month of the campaign, Cramer appeared to consolidate support as conservatives rallied around the controversial confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughSarah Palin says she's praying about running for Senate against Murkowski Top House Democrats call on Biden administration to extend eviction moratorium On The Money: Biden asks Congress to extend eviction ban with days until expiration | Economic growth rose to 6.5 percent annual rate in second quarter MORE, who faced multiple sexual misconduct allegations.

Heitkamp ultimately voted against Kavanaugh's confirmation, setting the stage for GOP claims that she was out of touch with North Dakota voters.

Heitkamp's seat was seen by Republicans as key to expanding their Senate majority and critical to Democratic efforts to retake the chamber.

The Cook Political Report rated the race as "Lean" Republican.