Hoeven decision to run will come in two weeksNorth Dakota Gov. John Hoeven, long seen as the strongest chance the GOP has of beating Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan, confirmed Tuesday that he's considering the possibility of running after the senator said he would not seek another term.
By: Tu-Uyen Tran, Grand Forks Herald
Gov. John Hoeven on Tuesday made the strongest statement yet regarding his potential candidacy for U.S. Senate.
“We’re looking at it very seriously,” he told the Herald. “We should have an announcement within two weeks.”
The governor has made a habit of playing coy, saying he was very focused on his job. Even after a December poll by Rasmussen Reports found that he’d beat incumbent Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., by 22 points, the governor wouldn’t reveal his intentions.
When Dorgan announced Tuesday that he’s not seeking another term, questions about Hoeven’s intentions emerged again. But this time he was a lot closer to taking a position than before.
The advantage of keeping mum, said Sen. Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks, is it’s harder to attack someone who’s uncommitted. “The moment you put your name out there, whoever your opponent is starts tackling you. That leaves you spending your money defending yourself.”
And, Holmberg said, “People don’t get excited about these campaigns that last forever.”
Dorgan, in fact, had been ready to pummel Hoeven. He told supporters in October that the GOP is trying to convince the governor to run and, if they succeed, “this will become a major race almost immediately. That’s why I need your help right now.”
“One big factor in any opponent’s decision will be whether he believes he can raise enough money to compete in this race. The more donations we report to the (Federal Election Commission) before the midnight deadline tonight (Oct. 1), the more it will do to send a message that we will wage an aggressive campaign.””
Now that Dorgan’s decided against running, the money advantage might reverse itself, according to Senate Majority Leader Bob Stenehjem, R-Bismarck. It’s easier to get Republicans to donate, he said, if they know they don’t have to battle Dorgan.
Dorgan’s always been fairly popular despite being a Democrat in a mostly Republican state. In his last election in 2004, he won 68 percent of the vote.
“I’m really optimistic from a Republican standpoint,” Stenehjem said. “It’s a perfect opportunity for republicans in North Dakota to gain a U.S. Senate and a U.S. House seat.”
Reach Tran at (701) 780-1248; (800) 477-6572, ext. 248; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.