Republicans Romney, Dalrymple win North DakotaRepublican Rep. Rick Berg remains locked in a tight race with Democrat Heidi Heitkamp for its U.S. Senate seat.
By: Dave Kolpack, The Associated Press
FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Voters enjoying a robust economy fostered by western North Dakota's oil boom showed support Tuesday for the smaller government and tax cuts advocated by Republicans.
Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney and incumbent Gov. Jack Dalrymple carried the state, while Republican Rep. Rick Berg remained locked in a tight race with Democrat Heidi Heitkamp for its U.S. Senate seat.
Mark Nettum, 70, a retiree from Fargo, said he voted Republican because President Barack Obama and other Democrats have spent taxpayers' money and haven't helped the nation's economy.
"It is becoming too big government, too socialistic, too high taxes, less and less personal rights, less and less constitution, less and less everything," Nettum said.
Tom Shockman, 50, a Fargo money manager, said he voted Republican because he favors smaller government.
"That's how the founders built it. They wanted control with the states," he said. "They didn't want a big centralized government, that's where they came from."
North Dakota has risen from the nation's ninth-leading oil producer to No. 2 behind Texas in just six years, with the oil industry adding thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars to the state economy. The governor's race focused on management of that growth, with Dalyrmple maintaining he's done a good job of balancing spending on public works with tax cuts and Democratic challenger Ryan Taylor saying the state could do more to help local governments deal with problems created by oil-related development.
Dalrymple said his victory shows that citizens agree with his plan for improving the state's infrastructure, lowering taxes and maintaining fiscal responsibility.
"'There's a whole different set of challenges when your state is doing well," the governor said. "Some of these judgment calls can get even more challenging. But we look forward to it, because so many things are going to become possible."
Carol Preston, 77, a Fargo retiree, said she voted for Green Party candidate Jill Stein for president and Heitkamp for Senate because she believes people in the highest income bracket should be paying more taxes. But Preston also voted for Dalrymple.
"I think Gov. Dalrymple has been a good governor," she said.
Others also split their votes between the parties, including Bobo Dassin, 28, who said he moved from New York to North Dakota two months ago because of the state's economy.
"The economy is the most important thing. A lot of people are out of a job," Dassin said. "But I didn't vote along party lines. I looked at who was the best option. It's not all black and white."
Willy Marler, 19, of Rogers, said he voted for Romney because he believes he'll do a better job on farm policy, but he picked Heitkamp over Berg.
"I think she supports North Dakota better. She understands North Dakota and the way we live up here," Marler said. "It's a lot different from New York City or Los Angeles."
More people were expected at the polls this year because the state's population has grown with the oil boom. Residents broke a record for early voting, with nearly 130,000 casting ballots before the polls opened on Election Day, Secretary of State Al Jaeger said. That broke the record set in 2008 by about 10,000 votes.
Still, Jaeger said he expected voter turnout in the state to be similar to what it was in the presidential elections four years ago and eight years ago — about 64 percent or 65 percent of eligible voters.
"Even though our numbers go up, will the (turnout) percentage go up? That remains to be seen," Jaeger said.