Rick Berg likely to announce Senate intentions next week

UPDATED: BISMARCK—A Republican source close to Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., said he will likely announce as early as next week his intentions for the seat being vacated by Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D.

Politico also reported that multiple Republicans have said Berg will announce his Senate candidacy next week.

Republican state legislators have encouraged Berg to make the move, and some already have their eye on filling his House seat.

Berg has said that he’s “seriously considering” running for the Senate.

Berg, a former state lawmaker from Fargo, is in his first term representing the state in Congress after defeating former Rep. Earl Pomeroy last fall.

Berg now serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, which is charged with writing tax legislation and bills affecting Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs.

Berg would be the second Republican to enter the race. Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk is also running for the seat.

No matter who enters the race, it will be up to state Republicans to decide who gets the endorsement next spring, said North Dakota Republican Party Chairman Stan Stein.

Today, Democrats publicly asked former Rep. Pam Gulleson, D-Rutland, to run for the seat being vacated by Conrad. Find that story here.

N.D. Dems call on Pam Gulleson to run for U.S. Senate

UPDATED BISMARCK–North Dakota Democrats are encouraging a former state legislator and staffer of Sen. Byron Dorgan to enter the 2012 U.S. Senate race.

A letter signed by Democratic members of the North Dakota House of Representatives encourages former Rep. Pam Gulleson, D-Rutland, to enter the race.

Gulleson, who worked for Dorgan from 2002 to 2010 as state director and chief of staff, said Wednesday that it was an honor for her peers to make the request.

“I’m giving it full consideration. I have not made a decision at this point,” she said. “It’s one that I hope to make sooner rather than later.”

Gulleson said her work as a state legislator, farmer and Dorgan staffer has given her a good overview of the issues.

“I’ve been in every community in North Dakota in one capacity or the other,” she said. “I’ve spent a lot of time working on, I think, some of the really critical issues facing the state, including energy development, renewable energy and water issues.”

Gulleson grew up on a dairy farm near Oakes, N.D. She graduated from North Dakota State University and spent years working as a licensed nutritionist. She served in the state Legislature from 1992 to 2008.

She and her husband, Bill, have three sons who are involved in the family farming business.

Dorgan said Wednesday that he would “certainly want to campaign for her” if Gulleson entered the race.

“She’s an extraordinary talent, I think,” he said. “I think she would make a great senator for North Dakota. I hope she does run.”

Dorgan said Gulleson is likeable, a quick study and tenacious about making sure things get done and get done right.

“She’d be a tremendous asset for our state if she decides to run for the Senate,” he said. “She knows North Dakota like the back of her hand because she’s traveled every bit of it working in my state office.”

Conrad said he also supports Gulleson.

“Pam Gulleson would be an outstanding candidate and exceptional United States senator,” he said in a statement. “She would be a strong voice for North Dakota in the United States Senate.”

Rep. Shirley Meyer, D-Dickinson, said it would be “history making, precedent setting and long overdue” for a woman to represent North Dakota in the U.S. Senate.

The only woman to represent the state in the Senate was Jocelyn Burdick, who was appointed to fill a vacancy caused by her husband’s death. She served for a few months in 1992.

“She’s extremely honest and exceptionally smart, an extremely hard worker,” Meyer said of Gulleson. “If she commits to something, she commits 100 percent.”

Republican candidate Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk said Gulleson would be “a very credible candidate.”

“But my focus is 100 percent on the Republican nomination, period,” he said.

Republican legislators have also encouraged former state representative and now U.S. Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D. 

A Republican source close to Berg said he will likely announce his intentions as early as next week.

Joe Aronson, executive director of the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party, said he wasn’t sure when further Democratic announcements for state races would occur.

“We’re just very excited folks are inching closer to making an announcement and getting into these races,” he said. “It wouldn’t surprise me to see people get in sooner rather than later. Obviously they’re big decisions.”