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Cramer ousts Heitkamp in critical North Dakota Senate race

Rep. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerBiden administration faces big decision on whether to wade into Dakota Access fight OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to Obama marine monument designation | Interior reverses course on tribal ownership of portion of Missouri river | White House climate adviser meets with oil and gas companies Senate GOP pushes back on list of participants in oil and gas leasing forum MORE (R-N.D.) toppled Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampBill Maher blasts removal of journalist at Teen Vogue Centrist Democrats pose major problem for progressives Harrison seen as front-runner to take over DNC at crucial moment 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 TrumpUS gives examples of possible sanctions relief to Iran GOP lawmaker demands review over FBI saying baseball shooting was 'suicide by cop' House passes bill aimed at stopping future Trump travel ban 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 KavanaughFeehery: The left-wing hysteria machine Biden's court-packing theater could tame the Supreme Court's conservatives Trump knocks CNN for 'completely false' report Gaetz was denied meeting 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.