Berg announces U.S. Senate runRep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., will seek the Republican endorsement to run for the U.S. Senate in 2012, he announced Monday. In a newly released online video, Berg said the future of the nation “hangs on the Senate’s willingness to listen to the American people and work to get our country back on track” — something he said isn’t happening under the current leadership.
By: By Ryan Johnson, Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., will seek the Republican endorsement to run for the U.S. Senate in 2012, he announced Monday.
In a newly released online video, Berg said the future of the nation “hangs on the Senate’s willingness to listen to the American people and work to get our country back on track” — something he said isn’t happening under the current leadership.
“Unfortunately, President Obama, Harry Reid and Senate Democrats have stopped real reforms,” he said. “That’s why I’m running to be North Dakota’s senator, to bring much-needed change to the Senate.”
Democrats argued that it’s too soon for the freshman representative to move up to the Senate. Berg took office in January after defeating longtime Democratic incumbent Earl Pomeroy to become North Dakota’s sole member of the U.S. House.
Democratic-NPL Party Chairman Mark Schneider issued a statement Monday criticizing Berg for a congressional track record that he said shows the Republican “is far more interested in advancing his political career than standing up for everyday North Dakotans and North Dakota values.”
“After only five months in Washington, he is already asking North Dakotans for a promotion,” Schneider wrote. “In Washington, Berg has voted in lockstep with his Republican bosses and has refused to be the independent voice North Dakota needs.”
But National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, praised Berg as a “proven leader” who has “established a record of conservative principles and leadership in the House.”
“Rick’s leadership and skill have quickly emerged in Congress, but great talent is hard to keep,” Sessions said in a written statement. “My colleagues and I will miss his friendship and service in the House of Representatives.”
In his announcement video, which was sent to email subscribers and Facebook fans Monday afternoon, Berg discussed a series of top priorities for office that closely follow his messages on the campaign trail last year as he ran for the U.S. House.
He said lawmakers “must stop Obamacare” because the health care reform package “places the government between doctors and their patients.”
Berg also talked about the “suffering” national economy. He said government spending is higher than ever but unemployment remains high, “fueling the uncertainty our small businesses face and preventing America’s job creators from investing in the economy and hiring new workers.”
And he warned that unless lawmakers take drastic action, “we are at risk of leaving our children and grandchildren in worse shape” for the first time in U.S. history.
Berg will now set off a three-day, 10-city tour across North Dakota, starting with a 9 a.m. visit in Fargo today and concluding Thursday in his hometown of Hettinger.
He’ll be in Grand Forks on Wednesday for a noon politics and lunch event at the GuestHouse Inn, 710 First Ave. N.
With his announcement, Berg became the second declared Republican candidate seeking the party endorsement to run for the open U.S. Senate seat that retiring Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., has held since 1986.
Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk announced his bid for the GOP endorsement last month. But just as he was preparing to officially declare his candidacy, dozens of North Dakota’s Republican lawmakers — including fellow Public Service Commissioners Kevin Cramer and Tony Clark — signed a letter encouraging Berg to run for the Senate.
In the letter, nearly all Republican members of the North Dakota Legislature and most statewide officials praised Berg’s victory over Pomeroy in last year’s “historic election” and said he’s already made “tremendous strides in changing the mindset and direction of Washington.”
But “it is clear that the fight to get our country back on track currently rests with the United States Senate,” they wrote.
Kalk has said he would seek the Republican endorsement for the Senate no matter what office Berg decided to seek. In a Saturday email to supporters and media contacts, Kalk said he’s “in to win” at the state convention next spring.
“Some have asked if I would drop out should certain candidates enter,” he wrote. “My response then and my response now is that we are headed to the Bismarck convention and we will win.”
No Democrat has announced their candidacy for the Senate. But former Rep. Pam Gulleson, D-Rutland, is considering a run after receiving encouragement from North Dakota Democrats last week.
Ryan Johnson is a reporter at the Grand Forks Herald,
which is owned by Forum Communications Co.