There Is A Lot Of Republican Concern About The Berg/Heitkamp Race


Politico is reporting, in their typically breathless style, that NDGOP executive director Anthony Reedy conceded in an email that Democrat Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp’s campaign ads have been “much better” than Republican Rick Berg’s.

I was forwarded the email exchange in which Reedy made his comments earlier in the week but decided not to post on it as I didn’t think it was all that newsworthy.  That Heitkamp has been doing a better job with her campaign than Berg seems self-evident.  Which is exactly what she needs to do to win.  Only out-of-state reports who are notoriously out of sync with North Dakota politics would think this is news.

Heitkamp has a lot of obstacles to overcome.  Her national party has moved way to the left of the North Dakota electorate, and she’s been outspoken in support of both President Obama and Obamacare, perhaps the most visible representations of that leftward shift.  She’s also has serious ethical issues in her relationship with former trial lawyer and current Obama-appointed federal judge Jack McConnell who showered political money on Heitkamp (his former law firm continues to in this election cycle) after she granted him a lucrative appointment to serve North Dakota in the state tobacco class action suits (the settlement of which still pays McConnell millions per year).

Heitkamp has sought to overcome these area where she needs to be defensive with a good offense.  Since the first day of her campaign she has attacked Berg furiously while casting herself as an “independent.”  Berg has not handled the attacks well.  Where Heitkamp seems to be everywhere in the media, Berg it seems can rarely be reached.

With all of this happening in a vacuum of data about the race – there hasn’t been any reliable polling in more than a month – many Republicans are worried.  I hear about it constantly.

To be honest, I don’t think Heitkamp is winning.  I think she’s done a very good job of creating the perception that she has the edge in the race.  But the problem is that if you allow that perception to persist, it becomes reality.

If Berg loses this race he has nobody to blame but himself.  Heitkamp, though a skilled campaigner, is eminently beatable.  It it still requires a level of effort that, so far, Berg seems unwilling to commit to.

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.

Related posts

  • RCND

    This guy is trying to coast through the race, plain and simple. He is following Dalrymple’s playbook of not expending any noticeable efforts. The problem is Berg actually has an opponent who can beat him, if he lets her. I swear I think he worked harder to beat Sand to get the party nomination (before Sand bypassed the convention) than he is now to win the ultimate prize

    • Goon

      Heidi is not going to win this election… Do you really think that North Dakota would replace an liberal senator with another liberal senator after taking two lefties seats? The National Media is trying to get their democratic base excited but their not…

      • RCND

        I hope you are right, but he needs to try and win instead of win despite his efforts. The thought of her even having a shot is scary enough.

        • Goon

          it appears that the North Dakota media and others are getting caught up by left leaning blather about how Obama is going to win and the numbers if they are polled correctly and not over sampling Democrats show a very bleak picture for left leaning candidates if you read the politco you see blog post claiming that the GOP is going to get slaughter in the next election and I don’t see it happening unless it’s in a blue state. ND and Montana aren’t going to to democrats and Akin even with his slip is actually hanging in there.

          • RCND

            Lots of daylight between here and the finish line. The Media will be doing their part, and quadruple efforts as needed, to get Obutthead reelected and as many of his pals as possible. Just watching the news tonight you can see how they are overplaying the post convention bump he got into a death knell for Romney

          • Davoarid

            By Akin’s “slip”, you mean when he revealed to the public that he actually believes that women cannot become pregnant after being raped, right?
            Yeah, that was a slip alright. You should really keep those beliefs to yourself.

  • 308T

    Berg sucks as a campaigner! It stuns me how the guy refuses to go after her phony attempts to paint herself as some sort of conservative. In the debate on Tuesday he got his ass royally kicked by Heidi. I’m going to vote for the guy but I’m quickly losing hope that he’ll get elected. The sheeple in ND are easily swayed by this “independent” BS talk that Heidi & her troll like brother,Joel throw around.

    • Clifton Nelson

      I believe the debate was on Wednesday,at least the one that I went to was…Was there another on Tuesday that I missed,darn

      • 308T

        Whatever day it was it was nothing to remember. Berg didn’t do himself any favors with his performance. His TV commercials are good but his debate skills are woeful. I was HEAVILY disappointed in him.

  • ndobserver

    Berg has been a superb Congressman, much better than I expected. As a freshmen Representative he has got bills passed and been an effective advocate for North Dakota farmers, business and military issues. He has a great staff here and in DC. But as a campaigner he has played it too safe against Heitkamp who has been very aggressive and well financed. Last year I went to a couple of town hall meetings where he was terrific as the Dems came out in flocks to try to attack him and trip him up. They were vicious and nasty and Rick handled himself very well. Would like to see that Rick again. Heitcamp is spinning the story the race is even so she gets the big union, trial attorney and Dem funding. The last poll I saw for Obama/Romney was 54/35% – a 20% margin for Romney. I doubt Obama can receive 40% of the ND vote and there is no reason for a Romney voter to vote for Heitkamp as Reid is the enemy of Romney.

    • Clifton Nelson

      where in the H did you see Romney up by 20 points? your dreams maybe

  • grandma

    I am voting for Berg,but Heidi is running a good campaign I wonder what kind of pay backs she will owe,if she does win, I don’t trust her or her brother at all. I don’t think good talking points make a good senator,we must take our country back and Heidi will not help us do that. Her stand on abortion is evil that is one reason I will not vote for her.

  • Thresherman

    Now that the coventions are over, the real campaign begins. Now everyone wants Berg to go negative in a big way just so they can feast on red meat. But negative can backfire, especially with a liberal woman who will then whine that her oppontent is being mean. Better to hold off till closer to the election when she will not have the time to craft a response that tries to make her a victim while still promoting her as a leader. Doing it late enough will only give her time to look like a whiner. That would be the equivilent of a 14th round TKO.

  • zipity

    Yeah, have you seen the ad where Hidey (sic…as she is hiding the fact she is a flaming Liberal) shows Berg as a trained dog? Wonder what the fallout would have been if Rick had portrayed Hidey as a dog….?

  • Clint F

    Heidi is running a better campaign…of course she’s lying.

  • brain trust

    I’m hoping that Rick’s superiority in number of primary votes will carry over to November. Being able to retire Harry Reid as Senate Leader gives no better reason for voting for Berg. Whether you like Rick Berg or not, the thought of seeing Reid presiding over the Senate should bring a person to the polls in November.

    • RCND

      Rick had an opponent, as did Kalk. No Dem had a challenger, so there was no reason for them to turn out an vote except for the four measures and local office races. I think there IS something to be said about the overall numbers voting Republican vs Democrat, but I am not sure if counting Berg’s votes against Heidi’s is an accurate measure of this November

  • philgray

    If you do not think Heitkamp is winning …………….WTF are you doing reporting something similar to that on your blog….
    Rick is fine….idiots out there are trying their damndest to make it an issue….take a little cash,,,,and lo and behold…we have an issue…
    How much money is being SLUSHED around now ROB>>>>
    wow dude…so lame, you remind me of Daum at times….
    losing alot of respect out in the real world dude….wake up

  • Rick Olson

    I agree that it seems like Rick Berg is coasting along. Really, nobody expected Heidi to be doing this well. After all, she’s been virtually out of the public spotlight since she lost to John Hoeven in the 2000 governor’s race. I also agree that if Berg does lose to Heitkamp in November, he’ll have no one to blame but himself.

    • Rumples

      Coasting along? Seriously?

      • RCND

        What has he really done to show he is trying to win?

      • Rick Olson

        That’s what it certainly appears. But you also have to admit that both candidates have been letting the out-of-state money and PAC advertising do their bidding for them. Neither Berg or Heitkamp have produced more than a few of their own ads, while the airwaves have been filed with wall-to-wall ads on radio and TV from out-of-state special interest groups, PACs and so forth.

  • Game

    I have an honest question for the Berg supporters on this blog, Do you really think that Rick Berg beat Earl Pomeroy two years ago, or do you think that Health Care Reform and a few other votes beat Earl Pomeroy?
    I tend to think it was Pomeroy’s vote’s and not so much anybody being excited about Rick Berg. Now,two years later, Rick Berg is trying to run for a promotion, and he is again running against Obama. However, nobody thinks Obama is going to win in ND, so Berg seems like he playing prevent defence. All anybody knows about Rick Berg is that he wants to win, and he does not want Heidi to win.

    • Rob

      I think Heidi Heitkamp definitely supports policies that are way to the left of the ND electorate. And she, smartly, is working around those issues by focusing on incessant attacks on Berg.

      Berg would vote in the Senate the way most North Dakotans want, but he still needs to make his case.

      • Davoarid

        Does Heidi Heitkamp also support imprisoning rape victims who attempt to get abortions?
        Please forgive me, I don’t follow North Dakota politics that closely. I know Rick Berg supports imprisoning rape victims who attempt to get abortions, but I wasn’t sure about his opponent.

  • Davoarid

    As a helpful reminder to voters still “on the fence,” Rick Berg is the candidate who supports imprisoning rape victims who attempt to get abortions.

  • Rumples

    Is Anthony Reedy up for Employee of the Year?

  • John

    Berg is working about as hard on his campaign as he did as a member of the House. He followed party lines as a freshmen Congressman and now he is dependent of the Super PACS to run his campaign. I’m not a Heidi fan but at least she is getting out there and working to gather votes.