Are National Republicans Worried About Winning In North Dakota?


The NRSC announced that they’re putting big money into winning North Dakota’s Senate seat for Rick Berg, which would be a pick up from Democrats.  The narrative surrounding this move from some media outlets and, of course, the Democrats is that Republicans are worried about a race they had previously thought they’d win.

Heidi Heitkamp campaign staffer claims Republicans just “hit a very expensive panic button.”

The conventional wisdom is that Berg is under-performing in this race while Heitkamp is exceeding expectations.  Maybe that’s true, but I’m not sure Heitkamp is in as good a shape as some seem to think, and I don’t think this move by the NRSC communicates anything significant.

Taking a Senate seat away from as visible a Democrat as Kent Conrad has always been a big priority for Republicans.  From the talks I’ve had with campaign and party officials going back into last year, before Heitkamp was even in this race, they were never going to take it for granted.  Because let’s face it, a lot of North Dakotans have no problem voting for a Democrat.  North Dakota’s federal delegation had been all Democrat for decades before Republicans (including Berg) broke through last year to take a Senate seat and the state’s at-large House seat.

As marginalized as the North Dakota Democrat party is, Republicans never assumed that national Democrats were going to give up this Senate seat without a fight.  Given that, this investment from the NRSC’s in North Dakota was probably always going to happen.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I suspect we’re going to see some polling numbers in the coming weeks that aren’t so great for Heitkamp, and the reality of this race is going to cut through the smoke screen created by Democrats very quickly.

Update: A Republican reader emails to note that it’s not like the Democrats haven’t invested heavily in Heitkamp’s race. The DSCC and Majority PAC (Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s “Super PAC”) have made the following purchases, commitments:

DSCC $2,052,109
Majority PAC $807,500

That’s public record information available to the campaigns, media, etc.

Somehow, when Republicans spend a lot of money to pick up a Senate seat, they’re desperate. But when Democrats spend a lot of money to defend a seat they hold, that’s not desperate.

Up is down. Black is white.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • Emil Kashuntz

    There is hope for North Dakota, we could have some progressive real honest people elected to lead us in North Dakota, but the state suffers terribly from right wing Hoopleheads. Berg and the other lickspittles have a lot of money to fool the Hooples.

    • Rob

      The thing is, if you asked Heidi Heitkamp if she was a progressive or supported a progressive policy platform, she’d deny it. In public, anyway.

      • kevindf

        She’s an officer of the court. Isn’t it against the law for them to lie?

        • Yet another guest

          No, outside of legal proceedings and the courtroom, it’s perfectly legal for them to lie. Certainly immoral and against what God teaches in the Bible, though.

          • two_amber_lamps

            That never stopped em though….

    • Eat This

      Are you aware Hoople is a small town with actual people? That’s kind of an asshole thing to do, to take a minority and invent a derogatory word to describe them and/or others.

    • $8194357

      (progressive real honest)
      wow those words just don’t go together at all..
      East is east
      West is west….
      Never the two shall meet…

  • John Wayne- American

    Its about time they figure out that it is cheaper to campaign for a Senate seat in ND than one in FL, CA or TX. Rick Berg is a up and coming star of the Congress, he and future VP Ryan are close friends, so that might have factored into it also.

    • Rob

      Republicans were always going to put it on the line for this race.

    • Emil Kashuntz

      Berg represents the rich and they could stand behind him to help rob the working people in North Dakota. Always remember how easy it is to get Hoopleheads to vote against their own interest. Confusing them, scaring them, and telling them tall tails is do da. The cost for recruiting and idiot in North Dakota is cheap. Look at the dingers on this blog who fall for every cheap trick Rob pulls.

      • HoopleMayor

        I am the Mayor of Hoople, ND and I would kindly request that you refrain from the use of the term “Hooplehead.” Just because we are a small town (population 245) does not mean you are free to invent a term meant to demean and ridicule without consequence.

        • Emil Kashuntz

          Sorry Mayor, but you must already know the term comes from the the HBO series Deadwood. If you google Hooplehead on youtube you will see the exact reference. Unfortunately Hoopleheads are not limited to your town, North Dakota is polluted with them. Simple right wing dingers dazed and confused by Rush and Fox.

          • two_amber_lamps

            Emil… why do yo persecute the residents of Hoople, ND? Obviously you loath these poor people who have done nothing to you. What a disgusting individual you are… SICKENING BIGOT!!

      • $8194357

        boy that’s the codified Alinsky’s rules kettle calling
        the pot black, huh….

  • Emil Kashuntz

    The greedy rats have the cash, and it will be hard for morality to triumph greed in North Dakota.

    • $8194357

      Leftist social justice politics “is a false moral high ground” loser..
      Communist think tanks like the Frankfort School took marxist communism to the
      moral super structure of American Juedeo/Christian western capitalist society to create a false morality to decieve a moral people into the socialist soviet party line…UNESCO dipwad…Learn about communist revisionism…UNESCO educated marxist lemming….
      Study up on it huh…

    • DakotaStrong

      Here is your problem Emil. You act like one person can’t make a difference. If you had what it took to convince others of what you believe in, you could change the world. It doesn’t take money to do that. It takes a lot of hard work, perserverence, etc. I would like to say you have it, as I believe we all have the abilities to make a difference in this world. However, I do question you because of your whiney attitude.

  • philgray

    Dont worry guys….heifer Heidi hasnt a chance… to watch the stupid socalled conservative worrying….They are just making sure….remember heifer heidi has been a real leftist…she will get the occupy wackos money and hard care leftist..
    Be smart and hammer the bitch and do not let up…I am in favor of that

    • borborbygmi

      It is amazing how Conservative resort to name calling when face with a strong woman.

      • $8194357

        Never mind…
        You folks are hopeless…

      • two_amber_lamps

        Yes the force of gravity acts strongly upon that one…

  • Roy_Bean

    This was a question for Emil.

    John F. Kerry has more money than Rick Berg or Mitt Romney. Did you support him? Maybe you are only jealous of “rich” Republicans.

    • two_amber_lamps

      Of course not… Kerry HATES his money and besides it belongs to his wife, so that doesn’t count. You must obviously be a racist! :)

      • Onslaught1066

        He does, however, love him some huntin’ license.

  • $8194357

    (Up is down. Black is white.)
    Good is evil
    the Truth a lie…
    Read that in the Scriptures as a warning in the end times….

  • justahick

    I was told by someone very high in Rick’s campaign two months age the the NRSC was going to pump a bunch of money into his campaign. It’s been targeted by the Republicans and Dems for a long time.

  • Jamer Morrow

    Yea because people are so pumped to go vote for Berg. Yawn.

  • spud

    I still believe in the end Berg will win by like a 56-44 margin. I wonder if anyone is paying “full attention” to the race yet as it is still August and there is what 68 days till election day. If anything they are most likely still reacting to the Mizzou senate snafu. As long as that candidate is still in the race the magic number to 51 is more difficult.