If Kent Conrad Thought A Democrat Could Hold North Dakota’s Senate Seat He’d Be Running Again
Yesterday I linked to a New York Times analysis indicating that Democrat Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp has just a 22% chance of winning here in North Dakota. Today Esquire has a profile of the race and, like the Times, gives the advantage to Rick Berg despite expressions of confidence in Heidi Heitkamp from Senator Kent Conrad who retired rather than run for re-election to the seat himself.
“I thought about running again,” Conrad says. “It looked as though I could pretty easily be reelected, but I just decided it’s time to do something else.” His good friends Senator Dorgan and Congressman Earl Pomeroy were no longer around, which made serving much less enjoyable, he says. As chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, he’d also just come through months of rigorous and draining negotiations on a grand budget deal only to see it go up in partisan flames. …
“North Dakota is more Republican, somewhat more Republican, than it used to be,” he says. “Republicans have always had an edge there. But I think it really depends on individual candidates. The quality and character of individual candidates.” Conrad says that Heitkamp is the kind of candidate who can win, regardless of her party affiliation.
Here’s the thing: I believe that if Kent Conrad truly believed a Democrat could hold North Dakota’s Senate seat he’d have run for re-election himself. I think Conrad, like Senator Byron Dorgan did in 2010 when he chose to retire rather than run for another term, knows that the electorate in North Dakota has shifted. Attitudes have changed (in no small part, I think, because of the digital media including this blog), and I think both Conrad and Dorgan know they weren’t likely to get re-elected.
Their long-time colleague in the House, Earl Pomeroy, made the opposite choice in 2010. He decided to test the waters again, and the result was a 10-point loss for the nine-term incumbent to Rick Berg.
Conrad, of course, is going to pay lip service to expressions of confidence in Heitkamp’s confidence, but actions speak louder than words.Tags: Byron Dorgan, Earl Pomeroy, election 2012, Heidi Heitkamp, Kent Conrad, North Dakota News, Rick Berg