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Two North Dakota Democrats enter US Senate race

Katrina Christiansen, an engineering professor at the University of Jamestown, and Michael Steele, a Fargo art and antiques vendor, are both running for the Democratic-NPL Party's nomination.

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Engineering professor Katrina Christiansen (left) and antiques vendor Michael Steele are running for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.
Photos submitted
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BISMARCK — Two Democrats have emerged in a growing field of candidates looking to represent North Dakota in the United States Senate.

Katrina Christiansen, an engineering professor at the University of Jamestown, announced Monday, Feb. 14, she will compete for the Democratic nomination and hope to take on the Republicans' candidate in November.

Michael Steele, a Fargo art and antiques vendor, also told Forum News Service on Monday he is running as a Democrat.

Incumbent Sen. John Hoeven and Bismarck state Rep. Rick Becker are vying for the GOP nomination.

Christiansen, a Nebraska native who received a doctorate from Iowa State University, said North Dakota is underserved by its congressional delegation and should have senators who won't just do "what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tells them to do." She charged Hoeven with taking North Dakotans' votes for granted.

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"I believe it is time North Dakota had a Senator who could set aside partisan bickering, and reach across the aisle to bring the resources and innovation we deserve," Christiansen said in a news release.

Hoeven campaign chairwoman Jessica Lee said the Republican incumbent has "a strong record of accomplishment" and will continue to serve North Dakotans by working to cut taxes, secure the southern border and support pro-gun and anti-abortion legislation.

Steele, a longtime Fargo resident, said he's running because he thinks North Dakota could be doing a lot better and his friends say he has good ideas. Steele claimed North Dakota has the lowest gross domestic output in the nation, and he's got a plan to take the state's economic output "from worst to first."

North Dakota ranked seventh to last in real GDP in late 2021, according to the most recent figures published by the U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis . The state stands among the top nationally in GDP per capita — a measurement that accounts for population.

Steele, who said he worked on multiple campaigns for former Democratic U.S. Rep. Earl Pomeroy, noted that he wants to improve access to health insurance and incentivize small businesses to offer insurance to employees.

He added that the state's political arena needs more Democratic representation. Former U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who lost to current GOP Sen. Kevin Cramer in 2018, was the last Democrat to hold one of the state's three seats in Congress.

A spokeswoman for the Democratic-NPL Party said it had not heard from Steele until Monday despite the candidate claiming he has been running for the seat for four years. Steele said he hasn't "been kissing the Dem-NPL Party’s butt," but he has spoken to elected members of the party.

The party will endorse a candidate at its March state convention in Minot. Steele said he is prepared to gather the necessary signatures to appear on the June primary ballot if he doesn't get the party's nomination.

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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