Cramer ousts Heitkamp in critical North Dakota Senate race

Rep. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerLawmakers toast Greta Van Susteren's new show Maryland manufacturers are stronger with the Export-Import Bank White House officials stand by Syria withdrawal, sanctions delay amid bipartisan pushback MORE (R-N.D.) toppled Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampThe Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same Trump wins 60 percent approval in rural areas of key states Pence to push new NAFTA deal in visit to Iowa 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 John TrumpGOP congressman slams Trump over report that U.S. bombed former anti-ISIS coalition headquarters US to restore 'targeted assistance' to Central American countries after migration deal Trump says lawmakers should censure Schiff MORE won the state by nearly 36 points in 2016 and Cramer cast himself as a close ally of the president throughout his campaign.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 KavanaughSusan Collins raises .1 million in third quarter Poll: 50 percent of Maine voters disapprove of Susan Collins's job performance Collins challenger raises .2 million in third 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.