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Democratic candidate for U.S. House of Representatives Trygve Hammer: “We are really making a difference” – Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS — Looking back on the last five months of his campaign for North Dakota's seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, Trygve Hammer says he couldn't have asked for a better outcome.

“Everywhere we went in North Dakota, the crowds were bigger,” said Hammer, one of two Democratic candidates vying for the office.

If he wins the nomination over Roland Riemers in the primary, he will face the Republican who wins the party's five-candidate primary.

But since January, when Hammer declared,

In addition to the nomination, he has a second goal: he wants to rebuild the Democratic NPL Party in North Dakota.

“We've really gotten people to come out of hiding and now they're asking for campaign signs that they didn't even put up before, even when they said they were going to vote for us,” he said. “I think we're really making a difference. I hope we win some votes this election cycle. If not, I'm optimistic about the next election cycles.”

Throughout his campaign, voters he has spoken to have compared him to the Republican candidates, he said. Some, for example, said they would like to see Hammer – a pro-choice candidate – debate Republican Cara Mund, who also supports abortion rights.

However, Hammer urged people to vote in the Democratic primary rather than defect to the Republican primary.

“If we have low turnout because a lot of people have switched to the Republican side, that has a reverse bandwagon effect in the fall,” he said. “A lot of people who identify as Democrats would vote if they saw some enthusiasm, but if they see a primary where we have barely any turnout and everything is happening on the Republican side, (they may say), 'Why even bother voting in the fall?'”

Hammer said many Republicans have told him they will vote for him depending on which candidate wins the primary. He said they tell him that because they are tired of the party's antics.

“Republicans have said to me, 'Hey, if Rick Becker wins, I'm voting for you,' and Republicans have said, 'If Cara Mund wins, I'm voting for you,'” Hammer said. “(The Republicans) are not a monolith … even though (people) try to portray them that way.”

Hammer argued that, compared to the other candidates, he had more contact with the average North Dakotan than anyone else in the competition.

“Republicans have talked about experience in their debates, but I have a life experience that is more like that of most North Dakotans than the others in this race,” he said. “I worked on the oil rigs, taught a high school class in a rural school, was a conductor on the railroad, was a consultant here with the (Quentin N.) Burdick Job Corps — I've been among the people who don't have a lot of money, and I've been one of them.”

He highlighted the border and national debt as two issues he wants to address, but based on conversations with voters, he says an even more pressing issue for North Dakotans is being able to afford their lives and have access to health care.

“I want comprehensive immigration reform, and I think we need to address the debt and reduce the budget deficit, but what people really mean is their own debt, the fees that they don't expect every time they buy something or read something,” Hammer said. “They're worried about their parents who never had nursing home insurance, and because many of them have closed, they have to go to a facility far away from where their family actually lives.”

Voigt reports on city government in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks.

Anna Harden

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