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With Heitkamp out, which Democrat will get the nomination?

Heidi Heitkamp's announcement that she will not run for the U.S. Senate could open the door to multiple candidates soon declaring their own bids, North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party officials said Wednesday.

Heidi Heitkamp's announcement that she will not run for the U.S. Senate could open the door to multiple candidates soon declaring their own bids, North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party officials said Wednesday.

So far, only state Sen. Tracy Potter, D-Bismarck, has announced his plans to seek the Democratic nomination to run for the position now held by retiring Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.

Potter said Heitkamp's decision could be a good thing for getting the nod at the March 25-28 convention in Fargo.

"I think I'm that much more likely to be the Democratic endorsee and nominee, and I'm looking forward to it," he said.

North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven announced in January that he would seek the Republican nomination for the Senate race. The North Dakota Republican Party will choose its candidate at the March 19-21 convention in Grand Forks.

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Potter said he's campaigned across the state since announcing his plans in early February, giving him a "strong advantage" in getting the nomination. But he expects more Democrats to enter the race.

"One thing that has happened is that other people have deferred, waiting for Heidi to make up her mind," he said.

The American political landscape has worried some Democrats seeking election this year, Potter said, but he pointed out "things turn around really fast" and the other side isn't gaining much support either.

"Certainly, the trend has been against the Democratic Party this year, but it's also been against the Republican Party," he said. "I don't think people like either party."

Potter said his leadership and "justified reputation" as an independent should help his nomination chances.

"I think that fits the public mood," he said.

Former Secretary of State candidate Kristin Hedger said she was ready to offer support if Heitkamp decided to run but is also considering her own Senate bid.

"I've also expressed my interest in the United States Senate and strong belief that we need fresh, bold leadership," she said.

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Hedger said she's not quite ready to decide, and the only real deadline is the March 25 start to the state convention. Her decision is centered on the leadership role she has in her family's manufacturing company, Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing in Killdeer, N.D.

"I've got 300 families who are relying on my leadership and business," she said.

Hedger said she will discuss the matter with company leaders next week. If she were to make a Senate run, she would develop plans to phase out her company presence.

Hedger said she has been preparing herself to take on legislative responsibilities by studying issues and developing a list of solutions she would offer to North Dakotans.

"These are things that we should be studying up on anyway," she said. "We are a democracy that relies heavily on shared responsibility, and now's the time to start identifying solutions to the challenges that we face."

Johnson reports on local politics. Reach him at (701) 780-1105; (800) 477-6572, ext. 105; or send e-mail to rjohnson@gfherald.com .

Related Topics: HEIDI HEITKAMPJOHN HOEVEN
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