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Published December 14, 2011, 10:20 PM

VCSU hosts first GOP debate

Valley City, ND (WDAY TV) - The race to replace Rick Berg's Congressional seat is shaping up to be a heated one. Five GOP contestants took the stage in Valley City tonight for the first debate.

The race to replace Rick Berg's Congressional seat is shaping up to be a heated one. Five GOP contestants took the stage in Valley City tonight for the first debate.

One belief is for certain among all these candidates: Washington needs fixing. The candidates echoed a strong anti-government sentiment all night and each promised, if elected, to try and make drastic changes on Capitol Hill.

Kim Koppelman – US House Candidate: “America is still the greatest country on earth, but that greatness is tempered with storm clouds on the horizon.”

They are as follows: Shane Goettle, Kim Koppelman, Brian Kalk, Kevin Cramer and Bette Grande; 5 GOP candidates vying for one primary spot. The candidates answered questions from the farm bill to how to we change military spending.

Brian Kalk – US House Candidate: “We need to quit giving money to countries that aren't our friends. That would be the first thing to go. You look at the way we got Osama Bin Laden, we used high-tech equipment, we went in there and got him at night, we did what we were supposed to do and we threw him over the side of the ship, that's the way to run things.”

At one point, they were asked what governmental agency should be eliminated. The answers ranged from the ATF by candidate Kalk to the EPA by candidate Goettle. But all agreed something needs to be done about the Department of Education.

Bette Grande – US House Candidate: “Because it is not necessary, we have our own departments of education within our states. It's a state's issue and we can take care of that.”

Kevin Cramer – US House Candidate: “I don't think it's primarily a state's issue, I think it is a state's issue. I don't think the federal government has any business in educating our young people.”

It's clear these candidates agree on many things, and with only small philosophical differences, it's anyone's guess as to who will grab next year's GOP endorsement.

Shane Goettle – US House Candidate: “I think it's great that we've got five of us on this stage. We're really stepping up and practicing what we preach. We believe in competition. We don't see any competition on the other side so here we are.”

Democrat Pam Gulleson and Libertarian Eric Olson have also thrown their hats in the ring seeking North Dakota's lone congressional seat. The GOP Candidate will ultimately be decided at next spring's State Convention.

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