North Dakota Democrat Heidi Heitkamp considering U.S. Senate bid

2011-10-10T23:00:00Z North Dakota Democrat Heidi Heitkamp considering U.S. Senate bidThe Associated Press The Associated Press
October 10, 2011 11:00 pm  • 

Heidi Heitkamp, a former North Dakota Democratic attorney general and tax commissioner, said Monday she is considering a run for the U.S. Senate, an office she previously declined to seek.

North Dakota Democrats have no declared candidate to succeed longtime Democratic incumbent Kent Conrad, who is stepping down next year. Freshman Rep. Rick Berg and Duane Sand, a Bismarck businessman, are competing for the Republican endorsement to run for Conrad's seat.

"I think that things are desperately wrong in Washington, D.C.," Heitkamp told The Associated Press on Monday. "I think that our Congress has lost touch with the people of this country, and that we need reasonable voices who will represent constituents, and not special interests."

Heitkamp, 55, said she would make her intentions public within 30 days. Former state Rep. Pam Gulleson, who had been promoted as a potential Democratic candidate, said last week she would run instead for the U.S. House seat now held by Berg.

Gulleson said Heitkamp wasn't a major factor in her decision.

Former Democratic Rep. Earl Pomeroy also has been mentioned as a Senate candidate, but he said he is not planning a campaign. Berg defeated Pomeroy last year.

A Senate bid would be Heitkamp's sixth statewide race. She lost a race for state auditor in 1984, but Gov. George Sinner appointed her as the state's tax commissioner in December 1986 after the incumbent, Conrad, was elected to the Senate. She won her own four-year term as tax commissioner two years later.

Heitkamp was elected attorney general in 1992 and re-elected four years later. She ran for governor in 2000 but lost to Republican John Hoeven, who is now a U.S. senator.

Democrats prodded Heitkamp to run against Hoeven again last year, when the Republican decided to seek the Senate seat being left open by retiring Democrat Byron Dorgan. She declined, saying a Washington office held much less interest for her than another campaign for governor in 2012.

But she said Monday that Conrad's decision to leave the Senate and Congress' "inability to compromise" on important issues have made her rethink the matter. Some issues important to North Dakota, from water management to farm aid, "really are, in many ways, federal issues," she said.

Heitkamp said she was not influenced by an August survey by a Democratic opinion pollster that concluded Berg may be vulnerable.

"I was considering this before any poll, and I am smart enough and have been around this business long enough not to put any reliance on early polling," she said.

Last month, Heitkamp praised state Sen. Ryan Taylor's announcement that he was considering a run for governor. She called Taylor, the North Dakota Senate's Democratic minority leader, a "dynamic and thoughtful leader" and said Democrats "would be lucky to have him as our nominee for governor."

Heitkamp has not sought public office since her loss to Hoeven, but she has remained active in Democratic politics and public issues.

She served as chairwoman of a successful 1998 ballot initiative campaign that required the Legislature to devote a larger share of its settlement with the nation's largest tobacco companies to North Dakota programs that discourage tobacco use. Heitkamp helped to negotiate the settlement when she was North Dakota's attorney general.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(18) Comments

  1. Bisonalum
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    Bisonalum - October 12, 2011 10:03 am
    Considering the performance of both parties over the past 10 years do we really want to continue sending one or the other to represent us? Heidi brings nothing new to the table nor has Rick Berg been impressive in my opinion. Nothing will really change until we get people to represent us that are not tied directly to the current two party system...it is not working!!
  2. Westriver
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    Westriver - October 11, 2011 8:29 pm
    Hobson's Choice, I would guess that you had better support her. I would guess that all the residents of the township had better support her, or face her ire.
  3. grammie
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    grammie - October 11, 2011 12:57 pm
    I bet Joel will really have quite a radio show now. I am sick of him,won't even listen anymore and if sister gets in race wonder how he will not be just one long commerical for her
  4. RockNDBakken
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    RockNDBakken - October 11, 2011 11:39 am
    Do it, Joel needs a real job.
  5. ct7591
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    ct7591 - October 11, 2011 10:52 am
    AWESOME, Go Heidi Go!!!!
  6. NAPOLEON
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    NAPOLEON - October 11, 2011 10:29 am
    You simply have to ask yourself------Who represents the PEOPLE of North Dakota better. Heidi or Berg?
  7. Ruben
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    Ruben - October 11, 2011 9:35 am
    If Heidi runs, I wonder if she'll have another health crisis, gain her opponent's assurance to not make it a campaign issue then double-cross said opponent by trying to use it to her advantage like she did in that gubernatorial race against Mr. Milk Toast?
  8. Me
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    Me - October 11, 2011 9:21 am
    I don't believe this is good for ND, she is past her prime.
  9. Rydonn03
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    Rydonn03 - October 11, 2011 8:26 am
    Woohoo Heidi - go Heidi go!!!!! We need common sense now more than ever and representation for the common people!!!
  10. Bill G-A-R-R
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    Bill G-A-R-R - October 11, 2011 7:52 am
    Run Heidi Run! It's your civic duty to stop this embarrassment (BERG) from becoming a US Senator.
  11. Inquiring mind
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    Inquiring mind - October 11, 2011 7:17 am
    YEAH! I had an opportunity to listen to Heidi speak at a conference a few years ago...what an incredible lady...as down-to-earth and authentic as they come. Someone who will listen to the people!
  12. Lord Kadizzle
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    Lord Kadizzle - October 10, 2011 11:17 pm
    Praise be unto Jeeeeesus. At last someone with a brain. Someone who can flush the lickspittles Berg and Hoven down the Republican toilet. Someone who will represent the working class. Let this be a sign there is a god and he hates Republican greed.
  13. Hobson'sChoice
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    Hobson'sChoice - October 10, 2011 8:39 pm
    Ing1947, I doubt Heidi Heitkamp worships President Obama but I am sure she will work with him.

    You claim that if she “was a real Democrat I would entertain the thought of voting for her. Who are you trying to fool?

    Just clicking on your moniker will reveal your recent posts and you are hardly a Democrat but more of a Tea Party Republican who will be voting for Tea Party Republican “Sit on my hands” Rick Berg.

    Go Heidi; you will have my vote and financial support!
  14. pippy123
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    pippy123 - October 10, 2011 4:34 pm
    Agree with GracieCat & haas75; Go, Heidi, Go!!! :)
  15. baldwin100
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    baldwin100 - October 10, 2011 4:27 pm
    Yeah, but what if no one goes to the democratic convention to nominate her and others. I heard through the grapevine that the grassroots weren't too excited the last time, and that the #s were miniscule compared to the Republican convention.
  16. graciecat
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    graciecat - October 10, 2011 4:09 pm
    Go Heidi Go...you would be great for ND
  17. ing1947
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    ing1947 - October 10, 2011 3:38 pm
    If Hiedi was a real democrat I would entertain the thought of voting for her. But she's in lock step with Obama and for that it would be hard to vote for her or anyone else who worships him as a president.
  18. haas75
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    haas75 - October 10, 2011 3:23 pm
    Yes please! She would be SO much better than Berg.
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