Berg seeks GOP nod for HouseRick Berg entered the North Dakota Republican endorsement contest for the U.S. House race Tuesday, making it a three-way competition for the party’s nod to oppose Democratic Rep. Earl Pomeroy. Berg, a Fargo businessman and longtime representative in the state House, re-frained from criticizing his chief rival for the GOP nomination, Kevin Cramer, who twice was his party’s choice to unseat Pomeroy.
By: By Patrick Springer, Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
FARGO — Rick Berg entered the North Dakota Republican endorsement contest for the U.S. House race Tuesday, making it a three-way competition for the party’s nod to oppose Democratic Rep. Earl Pomeroy.
Berg, a Fargo businessman and longtime representative in the state House, re-frained from criticizing his chief rival for the GOP nomination, Kevin Cramer, who twice was his party’s choice to unseat Pomeroy.
The former House majority leader and speaker said he wants to take his legislative experience to Washington to “stem the tide” of deficit spending, but did not cite specific spending cuts to balance the budget.
“Today I’m drawn into this race like many of us were drawn to help build dikes when the river rose,” Berg said, referring to last spring’s Red River flood, which drew armies of volunteers.
“North Dakotans didn’t wait and expect government to solve the problems,” he told a crowd of supporters at the Fargo Theatre.
Berg said Democrats in Washington took the wrong track in making a $1 trillion health reform package the top priority, which he said should be job growth.
The stimulus package, including the Cash for Clunkers auto sales incentive program, has failed to stimulate the economy but has added to deficit spending, Berg said.
“They’ve done one thing — growing the debt,” he said, adding that a cap-and-trade program to curb greenhouse gases would be “a real job killer.
“And Earl has been completely ineffective in stopping that agenda,” Berg said.
Pomeroy, who is seeking a 10th term, declined to comment through a spokeswoman.
“Choosing an opponent for the House race falls to the Republican Party, but whoever they choose, we are confident that Congressman Pomeroy’s strong record of delivering for North Dakota will lead to his re-election to a 10th term in the fall,” said Meredith Pickett, communications director for the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party.
After his announcement, Berg was asked to respond to comments from Scott Hennen, a conservative radio personality and GOP activist, that Republicans he’s talked to view Cramer as the stronger candidate.
Berg refrained from drawing sharp contrasts with Cramer in fielding questions from the stage, but later said his combined legislative and business experience make him the Republicans’ strongest challenger.
“I think I’ve got the best shot to beat Earl this fall,” he said.
Adam Jones, executive secretary of the North Dakota Republican Party, said he believes the nomination contest in the House race can avoid acrimony that would hurt the candidate in the fall.
“We’re going to have two strong candidates,” he said when asked about the Berg-Cramer rivalry. “It will be a spirited debate,” Jones said, adding that both candidates will conduct their campaigns as “professionals.”
Cramer welcomed Berg to the race and said he welcomed “aggressive, yet civil, competition,” and predicted he would emerge as the nominee.
The other announced GOP House candidate is Paul Schaffner of Bismarck. Republican delegates will choose the nominee at their state convention March 19-21 in Grand Forks.
Patrick Springer is a reporter at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.