North Dakotans are not of one mind on the race for the U.S. Senate. Depending upon a citizens point of view either candidate — Rick Berg or Heidi Heitkamp — would represent the state well.

However, there’s one striking difference between the two.

Berg believes that the American economy would be unleashed by reducing the size and reach of the federal government, which would increase the number of jobs and solve most of the nation’s problems. He calls for largely unfettered free markets.

Heitkamp represents a view that working together with government, the nation can solve its problems. She sees a constructive role for certain government regulation.

The Tribune has consistently supported candidates who espouse smaller federal government, less federal regulation and reducing the federal deficit and national debt. In keeping with those criteria, we endorse Rick Berg for the U.S. Senate.

The economy remains the most significant issue that the country faces. What broke economically in 2008, the nation has struggled unsuccessfully to repair. Bailouts and major federal spending that ratcheted up the federal debt have not put things right. Unemployment remains at an unacceptable level.

With the exception of the oil industry in key states, including North Dakota, business and industry has been slow to expand and hire workers. Financial institutions, at the local level, do not have the regulatory confidence to lend.

Too many people rely on the federal government for their support. It’s a bigger burden than taxpayers or the nation’s existing economy can support. Business and industry need to unleash their economic potential and for that to happen Washington must step out of the way.

Berg is a free-market true believer. He has been consistent in working toward fewer federal regulations and less federal spending. He has shown himself willing to make the tough decisions necessary on Medicare and Social Security.

He has sponsored federal legislation that would require an up-or-down vote an any regulations with an impact of $100 million or more. He has been a long-time supporter of a balanced budget amendment. He would support Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan economic policy.

Heitkamp would bring much to the U.S. Senate. She’s knowledgeable on many important issues and would be a skilled advocate for North Dakota. She is not, despite her support for a balanced budget amendment, a true fiscal conservative.

She generally supports the federal health care law that expands access to the health care system but will not control health care costs. Instead, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will add significantly to the federal debt. Berg would repeal it.

Berg is the Tribune editorial board’s choice for the U.S. Senate.