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Duane Sand considering another run for Congress

BISMARCK - Duane Sand, who is leading an initiative campaign to cut North Dakotans' state income tax rates, has set up an exploratory committee to consider another run for Congress.

BISMARCK - Duane Sand, who is leading an initiative campaign to cut North Dakotans' state income tax rates, has set up an exploratory committee to consider another run for Congress.

An aide to Sand recently filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to establish the committee, which will allow him to raise campaign funds without filing FEC reports. Sand would have to disclose any reportable contributions if he became a candidate.

Sand, a Republican, has run twice unsuccessfully for federal office in the past seven years. He challenged U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., in 2000, losing with 38.6 percent of the vote. Four years later, he got 40 percent in opposing the re-election bid of Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D.

He said he would consider another race for Congress only if his latest round of fundraising efforts was successful. He declined to specify what amount he would consider satisfactory, but hinted the minimum would be more than $200,000.

"We'll be reaching out to many, many, many people in North Dakota across the next three months just to see if there is enough interest and support for a competitive race," Sand said Wednesday. "I know better than anybody how bad it can be if you're not competitive."


Pomeroy, who is expected to seek his ninth House term next year, had $879,439 in his campaign treasury on June 30, according to his most recent FEC disclosure report. Sand said he would not decide whether to run until late December or early January.

Of North Dakota's three Democratic members of Congress, only Pomeroy is up for re-election next year. Incumbent Sens. Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad are not on the ballot.

Jamie Selzler, director of the state Democratic Party, said Sand was "probably wasting his time."

"The people of North Dakota twice rejected Duane Sand in his bids for Congress for good reason. His interests are out of touch with North Dakota," Selzler said in a statement.

Sand has been back into the public spotlight recently with a ballot measure campaign to reduce North Dakota's income tax rates. The proposal would cut individual income tax rates by 50 percent, and corporate taxes by 15 percent.

Supporters of the initiative are circulating petitions to put the issue to a vote during the November 2008 election. They need signatures from at least 12,844 North Dakota voters to guarantee a ballot spot.

In an interview, Sand said the initiative campaign, and not another run for Congress, is his first priority. "I really am focused on this tax cut right now," he said.

Many people he has encountered during the initiative campaign have asked if he intends to seek office again, Sand said.


"It seemed like enough people talked about a future of running again, I thought I should at least test the waters, and see what level of support is out there," Sand said.

Sand is the North Dakota and South Dakota state director for Americans for Prosperity, a conservative Washington, D.C., organization. It promotes government tax and spending limits and the abolition of business regulations that it considers to be unnecessary.

He began his political career in North Dakota after serving as a Navy submarine officer.

Selzler said North Dakotans would not welcome Sand's affiliation with Americans for Prosperity, calling it "an out-of-state interest group" that favored privatizing Social Security the Central American Free Trade Agreement, which North Dakota's senators opposed.

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