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Rick Berg weighs possible GOP run for U.S. Senate in

Former U.S. Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., talks about his life after leaving office during an interview Friday, May 10, 2013, in Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service

FARGO — Rick Berg is mulling a possible run for U.S. Senate. If he decides to run and wins the Republican nomination, it would set up a rematch of the 2012 race in which Democrat Heidi Heitkamp narrowly won.

Berg, a Fargo commercial real estate developer, said he is not now planning to enter the 2018 race, but has not ruled out a run, either.

"I'm not a candidate now," he said. "Life is pretty good now."

Still, Berg, who served one term in the U.S. House of Representatives and about 25 years in the North Dakota House of Representatives, including a stint as House majority leader, is torn about a possible run for the Senate.

"Never say never," he said, repeating an old cliche among politicians.

Berg said he has been closely following policy debates in Washington, particularly those involving health reform and tax reform.

"I can't not care what's going on at the national level," he said. "What role I'll play, I don't know."

Berg said he will watch to see what develops on important policy fronts.

In the 2012 Senate race, Heitkamp beat Berg by 2,965 votes, a margin of victory of less than 1 percent, to win the seat formerly held by Democrat Kent Conrad. Berg was elected to Congress in 2010 with an upset victory over Earl Pomeroy, the Democratic incumbent.

But Heitkamp has maintained fairly steady approval ratings in office. As of July, according to a survey by Morning Consult, her approval rating among North Dakota voters was 60 percent, the 11th highest in the Senate. She also has a campaign war chest of more than $3 million, as of last report at the end of June.

Tom Campbell, a Republican legislator and farmer from Grafton, has announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate. Campbell, who is making his first run for statewide office, has mounted an aggressive advertising campaign to get his name before voters. Campbell has portrayed himself as a loyalist of President Donald Trump.

Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., is considering a Senate run, but has not made a decision.

Tammy Miller, CEO of Border States Electric, also is weighing a run for Heitkamp's Senate seat as a Republican, but has not made a decision.

"I, like many Americans, am concerned about the direction of our country, so as I approach my retirement from Border States, I am weighing my options and this is certainly one of them," Miller said in a statement.

Miller, who plans to make her decision in November, said serving in public office would be a way of "giving back" and serving the community.

For his part, Berg doesn't appear rushed to make a decision.

"When I ran for the House," he said, "I announced in January."