Rep. Rick Berg is very seriously considering a run for Senate in North Dakota and is even likely to make the race, according to sources close to the freshman Congressman.
According to the GOP sources, the Republican had no plans to seek higher office until Sen. Kent Conrad’s (D) decision to retire and subsequent encouragement from supporters in the state forced Berg to re-evaluate his options.
Berg, a former state Representative, has been in Congress for almost four months. He defeated longtime Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D) in last year’s elections.
Some of Berg’s former colleagues in the state Legislature are circulating and signing a letter encouraging him to run. The letter is also signed by state Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, who was a potential Senate candidate, and other statewide officials.
An announcement from Berg about the Senate contest is expected in the near future.
The news comes as Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk (R) is set to enter the race and embark on a 20-stop tour after an official announcement Wednesday.
At the end of March, Kalk had $22,000 on hand in his Senate account compared with the $128,000 Berg had in his House account. That money can easily be transferred to a Senate account, and Berg already has a statewide campaign operation in place from last year, when he spent more than $2 million to defeat Pomeroy in the competitive, at-large Congressional race.
The GOP Senate nomination is particularly valuable this cycle since the open-seat race gives the GOP nominee a significant advantage in the general election.
If Berg does get in the race, other potential Senate candidates may look at running for his open House seat instead.
In North Dakota, nominations are decided at the Republican state convention. Berg is familiar with the process after securing the nomination in 2010 over former state GOP Chairman Kevin Cramer.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.