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Mund calls out crude messages in U.S. House race, Armstrong says it's best to ignore them

Cara Mund is trying to unseat Rep. Kelly Armstrong to become North Dakota’s first female elected to the U.S. House.

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Incumbent U.S. Rep Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., and Independent challenger Cara Mund are taking different approaches to social media blowback they get as part of their campaigns.
Forum News Service file photos
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FARGO — The two people vying for North Dakota’s lone U.S. House seat in November are taking different approaches to social media blowback they get as part of their campaigns.

First-time candidate Cara Mund, 28, running as an Independent, is trying to become North Dakota’s first female elected to the U.S. House.

She’s a Harvard Law graduate recently sworn in to the state bar association, and was crowned 2018 Miss America.

Incumbent Rep. Kelly Armstrong, 45, a Republican who was first elected to Congress in 2018, is making his third run for the seat and is also an attorney.

Mund says she believes in calling out the attacks, while incumbent Rep. Kelly Armstrong says they’re best ignored.

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Congressman Kelly Armstrong
Congressman Kelly Armstrong addresses the North Dakota Republican Party's 2022 state convention in Bismarck on April 2, 2022.
Kyle Martin/Special to the Forum

But Mund says the amount and type of criticism female candidates receive is very different from what male candidates get.

Negative comments toward her are often sexist, sexualized and objectifying, she said.

“There’s this perception that I can't say anything about it…but especially at a time where we are valuing women differently than we're valuing men, it’s important that we bring these issues to light,” she said.

Mund recently became fed up with the messages and spent a late night crafting a video with the description “Shining a light on what it’s like to be a woman running for office in a state dominated by male leadership.”

Posted to her official Twitter account on Sept. 21 and set to the song “You don’t own me,” the video gives a sampling of public comments that have come her way since announcing her run.

“I don’t mind women running for office,” one person said, “I just don’t like them voting.”

“I’ve got something she can run for. It’s the kitchen,” said another, “So she can make my dog Moses a turkey sandwich. God bless!”

“An independent cannot win ND…unless she campaigns naked,” said yet another.

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Her video post has garnered more than 1,300 likes, far more than any other on her account.

“I don't expect the attacks to stop. I expect them to only get harsher,” Mund told The Forum.

Armstrong is an anti-abortion candidate while Mund supports abortion rights, and she said the worst comments have come from those who don’t agree with her stance.

“You’re one sick and nasty (expletive). Do you think God is gonna say, good job you baby killing loving (expletive),” read one message she received.

Armstrong said certain comments, like death threats received during the Mueller investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and subsequent impeachment of then-President Donald Trump, have to be taken seriously.

But he has no time for the other attacks, especially those sent anonymously, thanks to his time as a criminal defense attorney and an American Legion baseball coach.

“If you can deal with youth sports parents and all of those different issues, you just… tone that stuff out,” Armstrong said.

If people would simply be nicer to each other, he said, that would solve a lot of these problems.

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“It’s okay to disagree with somebody. That's what politics is about. Terms like conservative and liberal are not pejoratives, they’re descriptors. And I don't look at anybody differently for that,” he said.

Armstrong has campaign staff, one of whom runs his social media accounts, while Mund is serving as her own campaign manager and social media consultant.

“No one's sifting through the messages for me trying to find the good ones and send them on my way. I'm seeing it all,” she said.

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Cara Mund talked with The Forum on Sept. 28 about her challenge to incumbent Republican Rep. Kelly Armstrong for North Dakota's lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Chris Flynn / The Forum

Mund welcomes the criticism and feedback, but once it takes a sexual turn or is a personal attack unrelated to politics, it needs to be called out.

The nastiness would still be there, she said, even without the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to effectively overturn Roe v. Wade.

She pointed to a lack of female representation in North Dakota politics, using Gov. Doug Burgum’s recent 1.5% flat tax proposal announcement as an example, when not a single woman was pictured.

“We're capable, we want to do it,” Mund said, but it’s clear why women aren’t there.

“They're trying to keep us out,” she said.

Mund planned to walk with supporters in homecoming parades for North Dakota State University on Friday, Sept. 30 and the University of North Dakota on Saturday, Oct. 1.

Armstrong said he would likely miss those events, as Congress was wrapping up its session and he wouldn’t make it back in time, but he plans to “go everywhere” in North Dakota in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 8 election.

Huebner is a 35+ year veteran of broadcast and print journalism in Fargo-Moorhead.
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