Dickinson oil worker enters Senate race to take on Hoeven in GOP primary

Riley Kuntz filed paperwork at the state and federal levels earlier this month to get his name on the ballot in the June Republican primary election.

Riley Kuntz, 39, filed paperwork to run for U.S. Senate in 2022 as a Republican.

BISMARCK — A Dickinson oil worker has joined the race for U.S. Senate to challenge incumbent Sen. John Hoeven in the Republican primary.

Riley Kuntz filed paperwork at the state and federal levels earlier this month to get his name on the ballot for the June Republican primary election. The 39-year-old said he's trained as a mechanic, and he looks forward "to the opportunity of fixing the very broken government."

Kuntz said in an email he decided to run for Senate because he senses that North Dakotans are frustrated with "career politicians."

Hoeven has served in major elected offices in North Dakota for the last 22 years — first as governor and then as a senator.

Kuntz said he supported ultraconservative state Rep. Rick Becker, who dropped out of the Senate race after narrowly losing the Republican endorsement to Hoeven at the party's convention earlier this month. Kuntz said he believes North Dakotans were bitterly disappointed with the events that took place at the convention, which saw infighting between historically powerful moderate Republicans and increasingly assertive ultra-conservatives


Kuntz said his campaign might be "short but sweet for the next two months," though he plans to speak with as many voters as possible.

When asked if he can beat Hoeven in the primary, Kuntz said he believes Hoeven will lose the primary, citing a quote he misattributed to Thomas Jefferson: "Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on Earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”

The winner of the GOP primary will take on the winner of the Democratic primary — a contest between Jamestown engineering professor Katrina Christiansen and Fargo antiques dealer Michael Steele.

Jeremy Turley is a Bismarck-based reporter for Forum News Service, which provides news coverage to publications owned by Forum Communications Company.
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