Interview: Former Congressman Rick Berg Talks Fiscal Cliff, His Senate Race Loss And His Future In ND

Rick Berg, Tracy Berg

“At the end of a legislative session, if you ask people if they’re going to run for the legislature again and they say yes then they’re not a good legislator,” former Rep. Rick Berg told me during our interview in response to a question about his future political career. Berg said he’s “excited to get back to creating jobs by helping businesses grow” in the private sector and getting more involved “out west” in North Dakota’s oil patch, but that he “certainly doesn’t have any plans” to run for higher office again.

He didn’t necessarily rule out another stab at politics in the future, however.

Berg lost a bid to move to the US Senate after Senator Heidi Heitkamp defeated him by a margin of less than 1% of the vote. Asked to reflect on why he lost, Berg said “we didn’t have as strong of voter turnout.” He also said the race was dominated by a lot of media and campaign advertising which “confused the issues” and allowed the “concept of big government” to win.

The last vote Berg cast in the US House was against the so-called “fiscal cliff” deal. Asked why he voted against it, Berg said he went to Washington to cut spending and lower deficits, and that bill “did the exact opposite” by increasing spending and raising deficits.

Berg said he does expect that House Speaker John Boehner will continue in his leadership role in the House, and that he expects Boehner will “bet back to the regular order instead of bills cooked up in the middle of the night.”

Asked what he felt was his biggest accomplishment in the House was, Berg said that he and his freshman class of Republicans “changed the debate” in Washington. Where before 2010 it was about spending to stimulate the economy, upon the “tea party” surge of Republicans taking over the House the debate changed to cutting spending and reducing deficits.

Berg did say that some may have set expectations too high for House Republicans, though. He said the “only thing the House can do is prevent a bill from passing, and so many of these things are on autopilot.”

Here’s the full interview:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbdvYB3H_8A&w=640&h=360]

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. 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. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • camsaure

    “We didn’t have as strong a turnout” Could that possibly be what happens when you defacate on your base?

    • slapdick

      The turnout did not appear to have a negative impact on the other republicans running for statewide office.

      • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

        That’s a fair point. Proves the race was about personality. Which doesn’t speak very highly for the priorities of some ND voters.

  • joe mauer

    Did you apologize to him for wrecking his reelection after your interview?

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      I’m happy you think I’m that influential, but no I didn’t wreck Rick Berg’s election chances.

      • Dallas

        Your not and you didn’t. The moral majority wasn’t and Hennen is not.

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          *you’re

          And I’m influential enough that you worry about what I write, cupcake. ;-)

  • nimrod

    It’s interesting that Republicans come home, when done in Washington, where democrats become part of the Washington machine. Mark Andrews, Ed Schaefer, and Rick Berg are productive North Dakota residents. I don’t think that Dorgan, Comrade, or Pomeroy hardly ever set foot in the state, nor would we want them to.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      That’s a very interesting contrast.

    • Guest

      You mean Ed Schaefer, the guy who lobbies for the oil industry and worked as secretary of Ag? He didn’t become part of the machine? Your willful ignorance is appalling.

      • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

        You clearly don’t know the first thing about Ed Schafer.

        • Guest

          So he wasn’t Sec of Ag and didn’t lobby for the oil industry? Seems you clearly don’t know anything about what you talk about. In other breaking news, there’s a New Mexico now.

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            No, he didn’t lobby for oil. It might do you well to look up the definition of that word.

            And you say he was Secretary of Agriculture as if that were a bad thing.

            I know governor Schafer very well. He had a guest post on the blog earlier this week. To say he’s part of any machine is a joke.

          • Guest

            Definition of lobbying: the act of attempting to influence decisions made by officials in the government. Hmm, did Schaefer every try to change anything about ND law? Why yes he did, he went around the state to advocate lower oil extraction rates! It appears Rob excludes positions he also advocates for from lobbying. What a hypocrite and hack!

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            Definition of lobbying: the act of attempting to influence decisions made by officials in the government.

            Well, ok, but that definition also covers free speech doesn’t it?

            Are Governor Schafer, and I, not allowed to speak up on issues we believe in without having pejoratives thrown at us by people who disagree?

      • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

        Including how to spell his name.

        • Guest

          Seeing that tiny profile pic is funny, it’s like responding to an uglified zach galifianakis

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            Hey, I like Zach however you spell his last name.

            And my wife thinks I’m handsome. That’s all that matters.:-)

          • Guest

            Battered wife syndrome is nothing to be proud of.

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            You obviously don’t know my wife very well. She’s not a woman who could be battered by anyone.

        • nimrod

          I spelled it wrong as well, but my point stands. Ed has been a good citizen of the state since he left Washington. Some (not me) can disagree with his “fix the tax” campaign, but it was an- in state issue. Would be hard to fault him for all of the volunteer work he has done in the state, and he lives here.

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            That comment wasn’t directed at you.

          • Guest

            Even though he also spelled it wrong.

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            Yeah, but nimrod isn’t a pretentious d-bag most of the time.

            ;-)

  • Hal Neff

    A lot of Republicans voted for HH out of spite. They thought that Berg was presumptuous and premature in his run for the Senate. We have ourselves to blame for the travesty that will be inflicted upon us thru the likes of HH and the Harry Reid/ Pelosi/ Obama cabal.

    Get used to it folks, we are going to see a lot of things get a whole lot worse before the voters have had enough of the “Progressives”.

  • Dallas

    Milt Young actually lived in Arizona his last two years in office. Tom Kleppe lit out for for Florida rather than come back to ND. Andrews maintained a consulting firm in DC with his former staffer and ‘close associate’ Jackie Bulktusa. Allan Olson moved to Minnesota when he was defeated in his bid for re-election.
    Dorgan and Conrad still maintain residences in ND.
    Perhaps Rick and Ed weren’t cut our for major jobs and had to come home to find gainful employment.
    By-the-by, no one has ever accused Ed Schafer of being overly ‘productive’. Looks greart in a suit. Secrtetery of Ag? He actually opposed key parts of the farm bill that was later passed.

    • Oldtimer

      Post the addresses of the residences Dorgan and Conrad “maintain” in North Dakota. Old supporters may want to drop by and say, “Howdy.”

      • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

        I drove by Conrad’s apartment the other day. I didn’t see him and Lucy around moving any furniture.

        ;-)

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