Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota) . Photo by Staff Sgt. Brett Miller / U.S. Army National Guard

'She's a woman ... you know, a female': Rep. Kevin Cramer explains Sen. Heidi Heitkamp

It's primary day in North Dakota and one Republican candidate is making some unusual comments about the person he's expected to face in the general election.

Kevin Cramer (R) is vacating his seat in the U.S. House in hopes of securing one in the U.S. Senate. He has drawn one Republican opponent in the primary on Tuesday.

But it's the expected Democratic nominee who is drawing his ire. He thinks Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D), who is running unopposed in her primary, has been treated kindly by President Donald Trump because of her gender.

“I do think there’s a little difference in that she’s a woman,” Cramer told The Washington Post. “That’s probably part of it — that she’s a, you know, a female. He doesn’t want to be that aggressive, maybe. I don’t know.”

Trump has indeed been friendly to Heitkamp. He called her a "good woman" at an event in North Dakota last September during which she was the only Democrat invited onstage and praised her at a White House ceremony last month when he signed a bill she co-sponsored.

But Heitkamp, who is an active member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, doesn't buy Cramer's explanation, noting that the president has criticized plenty of other female politicians. Neither does the White House.

“Remind me who the president ran against for the presidency,” Marc Short, who is the legislative director at the White House, told The Post.

Cramer's opponent in the primary is Thomas O'Neill, a veteran who barely mounted a campaign, according to The Associated Press. So he's expected to face Heitkamp in the general election in November.

Heitkamp, who won her first election in 2012 by less than 3,000 votes, has focused on Native youth, Native women and tribal law enforcement during her time in the Senate. She has introduced and co-sponsored a slew of Indian Country legislation and a number of them, especially those with Republican support, have become law.

Cramer won his first election in 2012 as well but has less of a favorable record on Indian issues. He has been a prominent defender of the Dakota Access Pipeline, though Heitkamp has been faulted by Native voters for failing to join the #NoDAPL movement.

Read More on the Story:
‘It’s obscene’: GOP candidate seethes as Trump embraces Democratic senator (The Washington Post June 11, 2018)
Primary elections today in North Dakota, Maine; So Dakota convention this week (Indian Country Today June 12, 2018)
North Dakota's Cramer faces primary ahead of Heitkamp match (The Associated Press June 12, 2018)

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Native vote at issue as North Dakota faulted for 'discriminatory' law (May 31, 2018)
'She chose oil over Indians': Native voters upset with Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (May 29, 2018)