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North Dakota sees advertising, campaign blitz before vote 

AP - The Dakotan
 November 7, 2022
 •

By JAMES MacPHERSON Associated Press 

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — After months of crisscrossing the state stumping everywhere from tiny town cafes to big city venues, North Dakota's U.S. House candidates were making a final push Monday attempting to garner voter support mostly through social media and television and radio interviews and advertising. 

Backers of a marijuana legalization initiative that will appear on the ballot Tuesday were busy hitting college campuses in the state and pot-friendly businesses to fire up support. Marijuana foes, who have been strapped for cash, were relying on a social media blitz to warn against legalizing the drug. 

The race between incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong and former Miss America Cara Mund is closely watched in North Dakota, in part because of Mund's late entry in the contest, citing her support for abortion rights following the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade. Mund's run as an independent spurred Democrat Mark Haugen quit the race, citing pressure from some in his own party to make way for Mund. 

Both candidates appeared confident Monday and believed they had done enough campaigning to win North Dakota's lone House seat in Congress. 

Armstrong said he was reviewing military academy appointments Monday and planned to attend his son's parent-teacher conference in his hometown of Dickinson later in the day. 

"I've done radio and some other media today and then we're just going to kind of button up and get ready for tomorrow," said Armstrong, who is seeking a third term. 

"We've worked really, really hard over the past two weeks from one end of the state to the other," he said. 

Armstrong would not disclose his campaign's internal polling on the race. 

"We should be OK but the only poll that matters is tomorrow on Election Day," he said. 

Mund said she, too, has traveled to much of the state stumping, especially in the past two weeks. 

Mund entered the race in early August. 

"I feel like I've done everything I possibly could since announcing," she said. "I knew it would be a sprint to the end." 

Armstrong held a huge financial advantage, raising nearly $2 million overall compared to the roughly $78,000 Mund had raised through the end of September. 

More than 96,000 North Dakota residents had already voted by midday Monday, or about 16% of residents eligible to vote in the election. Turnout historically is around 25% for primaries and 50% for November elections. 

Backers of the marijuana legalization initiative were making a last-minute push to get supporters to the polls. 

A similar measure was rejected by North Dakota voters four years ago. 

David Owen, who has led past pro-marijuana legalization efforts, and also the current, believes the measure has a good chance of passing this time. 

"It's not 100% in the bag but we feel good about where we're at," Owen said. 

The group was making a last-minute push to notify supporters to help get the word out Monday. 

Supporters were using social media and telephone calls and texts to make their case, and also visiting college campuses and business such as smoke shops to remind people to vote. 

Pro-legalization supporters have raised about $550,000 to push the measure, while foes have only raised about $2,500 in a last-minute attempt to combat the measure, campaign finance records show. 

The anti-marijuana group has no money for television or other traditional campaign advertising, said Luke Niforatos, executive vice president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a Virginia-based political organization against marijuana legalization that is helping fight the measure in North Dakota. 

"It's been basically just a shoe-leather campaign and social media campaign," Niforatos said. "We've got a little bit of money to do digital advertising and some videos but other than that, it's been pure grassroots." 

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