Freshman Rep. Rick Berg (N.D.) made his Senate campaign official Monday, providing Republicans with a top candidate for retiring Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad’s seat.
“To change Washington, we need to change the Senate,” Berg said in an online video announcement circulated to supporters. “Washington could learn a lot about the way we do things in North Dakota. Unfortunately, President Obama, Harry Reid and Senate Democrats have stopped real reforms. That’s why I’m running to be North Dakota’s Senator, to bring much-needed change to the Senate.”
Republicans view Berg as a top candidate for the open Senate seat in 2012. Although he has only been in the House for several months, he was a state lawmaker in North Dakota for more than 20 years before he defeated longtime Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D) last year.
Democrats didn’t hesitate to attack Berg for seeking higher office so soon into his Congressional career.
“Rick Berg hasn’t even introduced a bill, and he is already asking North Dakotans for a promotion,” Matt Canter, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in a statement. “In fact, Rick Berg’s lone accomplishment was voting for the extreme Republican plan to end Medicare for North Dakota seniors.”
Berg is unlikely to be the only Republican seeking the seat. Public Services Commissioner Brian Kalk has also announced his candidacy for Senate, and several other well-known Republicans in the state were considering a bid. However, some might opt to run for Berg’s House seat instead.
Local Democrats are reportedly trying to recruit former state Rep. Pam Gulleson, who served as a top aide to former Sen. Byron Dorgan, to run for Conrad’s seat.