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What’s next for Cara Mund after an election loss? A law career.

After losing the race for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives on Election Day, Cara Mund plans to use what she learned at Harvard to pursue a career in law.

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Cara Mund, independent candidate for U.S. House and former Miss America, talks with two supporters at her election night party in Bismarck on Tuesday.
Mike MCleary / Bismarck Tribune
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BISMARCK — While Cara Mund, the independent candidate in the race for North Dakota’s at-large seat in the U.S. House of Representatives lost the election on Tuesday, Nov. 8, she has no plans to slow down anytime soon.

Mund, former Miss North Dakota and the state’s first Miss America, graduated from Harvard Law School in May and announced her campaign in August, while studying for, and passing, the bar exam.

“It has been a whirlwind, but I’m more energized than ever,” she said. “I don’t think there will be really any breaks in there at all.”

Next, Mund plans to use what she learned at Harvard to pursue a career in law.

“I worked really hard for that license, so I’m going to use it,” she said.

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"We have serious questions concerning how unchecked growth of the federal bureaucracy and insufficient oversight have harmed our country," Rep. Kelly Armstrong said in a written statement.

In the general election, Mund gained 37.6% of the vote, while incumbent Republican Rep. Kelly Armstrong won with 62.2%. Nearly 238,000 votes were cast, with Mund collecting more than 89,000. Out of North Dakota’s 53 counties, Mund led in three: Cass, Rolette and Sioux Counties.

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U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., speaks with attendees at the North Dakota GOP election watch party in Bismarck on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.
Kyle Martin / Special to Forum News Service

Time and money were limiting factors for Mund, said Mark Jendrysik, political science professor at UND. In Federal Election Commission filings for July through September of 2022, Mund reported raising $78,000 for her campaign. On Nov. 11, she told the Grand Forks Herald she raised around $160,000 by the end of the campaign.

“She had name recognition built in — you can’t put a price on name recognition, but you need money and time to run a credible campaign,” Jendrysik said. “There just wasn’t enough time horizon for her to really put together a fully articulated campaign structure.”

Even with more time and money, the odds of winning the race would likely still be against Mund, he said.

“She ran up against a very strong Republican leader in the state, which makes any campaign an uphill battle, and in the current situation, it’s almost impossible for someone who's not a Republican on a statewide level,” he said.

Throughout her campaign, Mund was vocal about her support for abortion rights and criticized Armstrong’s voting record in Congress. She said a point of pride in her fundraising was not accepting money from political action committees.

Despite losing the race for a seat in Congress, Mund feels she won in other ways. She says other women and independents have reached out to tell her she inspired them to run for office, and people have messaged her saying she gives them hope for the future. On a tighter budget than Armstrong, working by herself, she gained the support of more than 89,000 voters in North Dakota.

“I’ve said throughout my life the biggest failures are the things you don’t ever try,” she said. “I think if I wouldn’t have done it at this point, when women’s reproductive health is really on the line, I would have always wondered ‘What if?’”

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Running for office has helped in her post-campaign job search, said Mund, with five different law firms reaching out to her in the 48 hours after the election.

“I have a lot of ability to negotiate now, which is great and something that I didn’t expect,” she said.

While Mund does not have any concrete plans to run for public office in the future, she does not rule out the possibility of another try. She says she will only run for another position when she feels the person holding office is not representing what is best for North Dakota.

“You won’t see me on the ballot just because I want to be elected one day, you’ll see me on the ballot because I really want to make a difference,” Mund said.

Ingrid Harbo joined the Grand Forks Herald in September 2021.

Harbo covers Grand Forks region news, and also writes about business in Grand Forks and the surrounding area.

Readers can reach Harbo at 701-780-1124 or iharbo@gfherald.com. Follow her on Twitter @ingridaharbo.
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