Heidi Heitkamp interested in U.S. Senate raceFormer Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp said Thursday she was considering a U.S. Senate campaign, opening the possibility of an electoral rematch between the Democrat and Republican Gov. John Hoeven.
By: Dale Wetzel, Associated Press
BISMARCK — Former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp said Thursday she was considering a U.S. Senate campaign, opening the possibility of an electoral rematch between the Democrat and Republican Gov. John Hoeven.
In a statement, Heitkamp said she would discuss the race with her family, friends and political allies, and said it was “extremely premature for anyone to say that my decision is close to being made.”
“I love North Dakota and North Dakotans,” she said. “The idea of running for an office that would require me to spend so much time in Washington gives me great pause.”
Heitkamp did not respond to telephone and e-mail requests for elaboration.
Since incumbent Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan said Tuesday he would not run for a fourth term, political activists have waited to see whether Hoeven and Heitkamp would seek their parties’ respective endorsements.
Hoeven has said he is seriously considering a Senate race and will decide soon whether to pursue it. He repeated his sentiments Thursday in a Fox News Channel interview at the Capitol.
He defeated Heitkamp to win his first term as governor in 2000, getting 55 percent of the vote. In his two subsequent re-elections, Hoeven won more than 70 percent of the balloting.
Jim Maxson, a former Minot Democratic state senator and North Dakota representative on the Democratic National Committee, circulated an e-mail Thursday urging a former Dorgan aide to seek the Democratic Senate endorsement. Kristin Hedger ran for secretary of state in 2006, losing to incumbent Republican Al Jaeger.
Hedger called Maxson’s e-mail “an honor” and said she was interested in a Senate race.
“I see we’re doing very well in a number of areas,” Hedger said, “but I think there’s a lot of areas where we could do much better.”
Hedger has extensive business experience at Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing, which was founded by her grandfather, Maxson said. She will also be 30 years old on Election Day, and Maxson said it is important for North Dakotans to elect a young person to the Senate.
“Since North Dakota’s next senator will be starting at the bottom of the seniority scale, it should elect one that will be there long enough to gain maximum seniority,” he said in his e-mail. “Seniority is power.”
Hoeven is 52 years old. Heitkamp is 54.
North Dakota’s U.S. Senate and House seats are the only Democratic-held offices among the seven on the statewide ballot this fall. Incumbent U.S. Rep. Earl Pomeroy is seeking re-election.
Among Republicans, Shane Goettle, director of the state Department of Commerce, said Thursday he was interested in seeking statewide office this year.
“There’s a lot of options, depending upon how the landscape changes here, what the governor does, what some others might do,” Goettle said.
Public Service Commissioner Tony Clark, a Republican who has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the U.S. Senate or House, said Thursday he would not run for another office this year. The commission regulates North Dakota’s fast-expanding energy industry, and Clark is in line to become president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners in November.
“I believe I can do at least as much good on behalf of consumers in this role as I would be able to do as a freshman member of Congress,” Clark said Thursday.
Separately, liberal MSNBC talk show host Ed Schultz, a former Fargo radio host and sportscaster, said Thursday he won’t run for Dorgan’s seat.
Rep. Merle Boucher of Rolette, the state House’s Democratic leader, had asked Schultz if he would be interested in the Senate race. Schultz mused aloud Wednesday about the idea on his MSNBC show, “The Ed Show,” and a separate political show on the network.
On Thursday, Schultz was asked on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show whether he was running. Schultz replied, “No,” and added: “Am I running for the Senate? I’m not.”
The National Republican Senatorial Committee sent a letter Thursday to MSNBC’s president, saying Schultz’s continued discussion of his own possible Senate race on the network could be tantamount to an illegal corporate contribution to his campaign.