Only Burdick filed as a Dem-NPLer, and the endorsed Republican candidate was Earl Strinden of Grand Forks, North Dakota, who was President of the University of North Dakota Alumni Association. As in the Burdick's previous re-election campaign, the senator's age became an issue for voters as he was 80 years old during the campaign. However, challenger Strinden commented that he did not want to raise the age issue. Burdick and Strinden won the primary elections for their respective parties.
The Burdick campaign hired high profile Washington, D.C. campaign consultant Bob Squire of Squire Eskew Communications. To counter the potential age issue, Burdick successfully focused the message on the "clout" he had earned over decades in the Senate, as well as his Chairmanship of Senate Agricultural Appropriations sub-committee and his Chairmanship of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.