Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), North Dakota’s lone congressman, announced on Wednesday that he will not seek reelection as he prepares to mount a campaign for governor this year.
Armstrong’s decision came just one day after Doug Burgum, the state’s two-term Republican governor and former presidential contender, announced he would not be seeking a third term. The two-term congressman is the first Republican to announce his nomination in what is expected to be a bruising primary for North Dakota’s corner office. The state GOP plans to endorse a candidate at the party’s April convention, though all Republican candidates who qualify for the ballot may run through the state Republican primary in June.
In a statement on X, Rep. Armstrong highlighted his advocacy for former President Donald Trump as a member of Congress, holding accountable a “two-tiered justice system” he claims has unfairly targeted the leading presidential contender.
“For the past five years as your Congressman, I’ve been fighting for North Dakota in D.C. I have fought against liberal overreach, a two-tiered justice system, and a radical liberal agenda. I have defended President Trump against two sham impeachments. And I have fought for state’s rights, individual liberty, and good old-fashioned common sense,” he wrote.
“I’ll take the experience I’ve gained fighting for North Dakota in D.C., to help increase opportunity and success here in our state… thanks to Governor Burgum and our Republican legislature, our foundation is strong, but to take our state to the next level, we need to continue to invest in our people.”
It’s time to bring the fight back home. pic.twitter.com/QShdMkO9jY
— Kelly Armstrong (@Armstrong_ND) January 23, 2024
Armstrong, first elected in 2018, previously served six years in the North Dakota State Senate and as Chairman of the state Republican Party. Speaking about his decision with the AP, the Dickinson native cited his desire to remain closer to home as another factor that drove his decision.
“The short answer is I want to get home and start working — I miss people. I miss my friends. I miss my neighbors. I miss being in North Dakota, I really do,” Armstrong said in an interview. “Serving the state in Congress has been an absolute, the greatest privilege of my life, but I really want to come home. I miss my friends in the Legislature. I miss the people who are more interested in solving problems than finding some mediocre social media fame.”
Over the past several months, a slew of Republicans in Congress have announced their plans to depart. Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) resigned this month, while others including Reps. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MI), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), John Curtis (R-UT), and Bill Johnson (R-OH) have all left to explore runs for higher office or take private sector positions. The departures put increased pressure on Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) to recruit a pool of challengers for both safe GOP seats and swing seats if he is to keep his slim governing majority after the November elections.