UPDATED 4 p.m.: I’ll be collecting reaction throughout the day, but here’s some early reaction to Sen. Kent Conrad announcing he won’t seek re-election.
From Sen. Tim Mathern, D-Fargo:
â€œOf his years in public service, Senator Kent Conrad will demonstrate his most important leadership in the next two years. He is in the middle of every controversy in the country in terms of budget balancing challenges and his attention to protecting the real needs of people worldwide.Â With this announcement he will not be encumbered by constant fundraising tasks and the politics of another personal election. Senator Conrad is also giving due notice to the democratic process to field candidates. Senator Conradâ€™s leadership to the nation will now be at its best. I firmly believe he will go down in history as saving our way of life from financial collapse.
I was first elected to the ND Senate in 1986 when Senator Conrad was elected to the US Senate. He is leader with the North Dakota values I share and I view him as a good friend. The best is yet to come from Senator Conrad.â€
REP. KATHY HAWKEN, R-FARGO
“Iâ€™m amazed and a little saddened. I think that Sen. Conrad has done a marvelous job for North Dakota, and I think he will be missed.
â€œLooking at my side of the aisle, I think itâ€™s going to be a fun two years to see all of the different candidates and whoâ€™s going to come out on top.â€
Sen. Carolyn Nelson, D-Fargo:
“Basically a shock and a disappointment. I think he has served us extremely well for 24 years.”
SEN. RAY HOLMBERG, R-GRAND FORKS
“I think Sen. Conrad, by making this announcement this early, certainly I was kind of surprised at that.”
Sen. Mac Schneider, D-Grand Forks:Â
“Well obviously this is a tremendous loss for North Dakota and for the United States Senate, but we have the utmost respect for his decision. And nowâ€™s the time to kind of reflect on all the work that Kent Conrad has done for this state.”
Republican Lt. Gov Drew Wrigley
“Well like people all across North Dakota, I join with others in congratulating Sen. Conrad and thanking him for his hard work across many decades on behalf of North Dakota. And thatâ€™s really what today needs to be about. So I thank him for his hard work on a variety of issues and even in a variety of positions.”
Gov. Jack Dalrymple
“I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation for his 30 years of public service to the people of North Dakota. I have come to appreciate the time and energy he has devoted to his office.”
House Majority Leader Al Carlson of Fargo:
Carlson wasnâ€™t surprised by Conradâ€™s announcement and said there are a lot of good candidates to run for that office.
However, he said heâ€™d like to see new U.S. Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., move over to the Senate seat and someone else run for the U.S. House seat.
Carlson didnâ€™t rule himself out, saying every name should be on the list.
â€œRick proved last election that a representative or somebody from the Legislature could win a statewide race, and you shouldnâ€™t eliminate any legislators from that (candidate) list,â€ he said.
Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk, who is exploring a Senate run:
“I want to thank Senator Conrad for his many years of service to the people of North Dakota.Â He has worked very hard and deserves our thanks.”
Kalk said in a statement that the announcement will not change his approach to a possible U.S. Senate run.
“We will talk with the citizens of North Dakota and with Republicans across the state and be guided by what is best for our family, our state, and our nation.Â That has been my guiding philosophy as a United States Marine, an instructor at North Dakota State University, and as North Dakota Public Service Commissioner.”
Sen. Ryan Taylor, D-Towner:
Â â€œIâ€™ve always considered Senator Conrad a mentor and am grateful for his example as a public servant. He was just as comfortable speaking at a small town cafe as he was speaking on the Senate floor about issues important to North Dakota and the nation.
“Weâ€™re all honored to have served with himâ€”some of our members served with him here in the capitol when he was tax commissioner. It will be a transition for our party, but our caucuses remain strong and committed to good government and the betterment of all working people.â€
Rep. Jerry Kelsh, D-Fullerton:Â Â
â€œSenator Conradâ€™s decision to not seek reelection is a loss for our state and the U.S. Senate, but we have the utmost respect for his decision. For three decades, Sen. Conrad has been a fighter for North Dakota, especially family farmers and working people, and our country, starting as tax commissioner right here in the Capitol.
“We will miss his service and his unparalleled knowledge of the budget, farm issues, water issues and energy. It has been an honor to work with him and to continue working on issues of importance to North Dakota.”