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Archive for November, 2011

Colbert zings Nelson’s ‘issue ads’

Weekly Clips October 27, 2011 through November 10, 2011

U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson, D-NE.

U.S. LABOR DEPARTMENT TO ALLOW AGRICULTURAL PRODUCERS EXTENDED INPUT ON PROPOSED REGULATION

October 27: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “One out of every three jobs in Nebraska is tied to agriculture. We need to increase opportunities for our family farmers and ranchers to strengthen our rural economies, not threaten them with new, unneeded regulations from Washington,” Senator Nelson said. “Nebraskans deserve the time to make sure their voices are heard on this misguided rule. It is another example of Washington being out of touch with Nebraskans’ values.” More…

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Nebraska Spirit of Volunteerism Needed in Washington

November 01: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: Poverty is another factor that discourages volunteering. Nationally, the poverty rate is 14.3 percent. Nebraska’s is 12.3%, and, of course, Nebraska is well known for consistently having one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country and few foreclosures.

You can read more about this at http://www.volunteeringinamerica.gov/NE.

This spirit of giving for the good of others would be helpful in Washington. Budget cutting would be a lot easier if Washington practiced more volunteerism and worked together on spending reductions. That’s what Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) and I are doing to cut 5.2 percent from legislative branch appropriations, which includes our own offices.

My colleague may not be from Nebraska but he certainly understands the Nebraska spirit of volunteerism and it’s a pleasure working with him to help reduce the budget by several hundred million dollars. It’s helping get Washington’s fiscal house in order. More…

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SENATE APPROVES NELSON PLAN TO CUT RED TAPE FOR JOBS REPAIRING ROADS AND BRIDGES

November 2: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “The goal of my common-sense solution is to avoid delays and get flood-damaged roads, bridges and highways back in shape as soon as possible, so Nebraskans can again use them for travel or business and get back to life as normal,” Senator Nelson said on his weekly conference call with the Nebraska media today.

“It might seem odd – but it probably isn’t surprising – that just fixing a road means it has to go through another round of the same environmental review process it received when it was originally built. This means rebuilding the same road in the same place will create more red tape, local expense and inconvenience while the federal government conducts lengthy regulatory reviews. It will take longer to fix the roads and bridges,” Nelson added. More…

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THREE NEBRASKA FAMILIES OF VETERANS HONORED WITH CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL

November 2: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson congratulated the Nebraska families of three Japanese-American World War II veterans who were posthumously honored today with the Congressional Gold Medal. Those honored are Shizou Sakurada, Wallace Takemoto and Yuki Akaki.

The Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to the U.S. Army’s 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and Military Intelligence Service members who served in World War II. These three groups were predominantly composed of Japanese-American soldiers at a time when roughly 120,000 Japanese-Americans were forced to live in internment camps.

“It is an honor to meet the families of these American heroes. Their loyalty to the United States of America at a time when their own families were interned is an inspiring story of service and patriotism,” Senator Nelson said. More…

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NELSON STATEMENT ON SPENDING PLAN

November 3: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “While I agree infrastructure is a priority, the most important step Congress can take to create jobs is to get Washington’s fiscal house in order. Given that, the Rebuild America bill goes in the wrong direction because it raises taxes for billions of dollars in new spending,” said Senator Nelson.

“Congress should focus on completing a long-delayed Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization and reauthorize a major surface transportation bill that expired in 2009 and has been continued Band-aid fashion with short-term extensions. That would create certainty for business and jobs for Americans soon,” said Nelson.

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NELSON FIGHTS TO PROTECT NEBRASKANS FROM SHARP ELECTRICITY RATE HIKES

November 4: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “I’m fighting to protect Nebraskans from rate-hike shock if Nebraska utilities have to comply with a new EPA rule they only recently learned applies to them, and only five months to do so,” said Senator Nelson. “I’ve called on the EPA to give Nebraska utility providers extra time to comply or, if that’s not possible, the EPA should abandon its deadline altogether.

“Our publicly-owned utility providers stand ready to install the technologies needed to meet federal requirements under the new Cross State Air Pollution rule. They just need a common sense approach, so they aren’t forced to pass sudden and steep rate hikes onto Nebraska electricity customers,” said Nelson.  More…

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NELSON APPLAUDS NEW OUTREACH PROGRAM TO HOMELESS VETERANS

November 4: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “As Veterans Day approaches, we honor the men and women who have shown their courage and loyalty to our country. Unfortunately, many who served on our behalf now have special needs and are homeless,” Senator Nelson said. “I applaud the Veterans Administration for offering incentives to encourage homeless veterans to get the help they deserve. I hope these American heroes will take advantage of this opportunity.”  More…

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Honoring Our Veterans, and Helping Them Get Jobs

November 7: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: This week, the Senate will take up legislation to provide a helping hand to some Nebraska veterans who deserve it.

The bill aims to make sure that once their service ends, our veterans can continue contributing to our society in the workforce. It provides tax credits of up to $5,600 for hiring veterans who have been hunting for a job for more than six months, as well as a $2,400 tax credit for veterans out of work more than a month, but less than six months.

The bill allows service members to begin applying for federal jobs before they officially leave the service, which will help them make a seamless transition back into private and productive lives.

The bill expands education and training for older veterans by providing veterans of past wars with additional Montgomery GI benefits they can use for education or training at community colleges. Not long ago, while traveling in the Panhandle, I was fortunate to meet some veterans using these benefits at Western Nebraska Community College to boost their job prospects.

Our struggling national economy is making it hard for veterans to find work, which is unfortunate. In my view, when they leave the service, we shouldn’t just shake their hands for a job well done and then send them out the door to look for work alone.

I’m supporting another initiative by the U.S. Veterans Administration that increases outreach to homeless veterans. Unfortunately, some who served our nation returned home with special needs and are homeless. Veterans Administration officials in our state estimate that there are between 800 and 1,000 Nebraska veterans who are forced to sleep under bridges, in parks or in shelters. More…

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NELSON’S MEDICAID FIX MOVING WITH 3% WITHHOLDING REPEAL THAT WILL HELP CREATE JOBS

November 8: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “By fixing flaws in two laws, we’re maintaining Medicaid as a safety net only for Nebraska’s most vulnerable citizens and repealing a burdensome withholding requirement, so job creators, communities and businesses can get to work helping our economy recover,” said Senator Nelson. “It’s a win-win making sure middle-class citizens don’t inadvertently receive Medicaid, and that our cities, colleges and businesses aren’t subject to heavy-handed rules that slow down our economy.”

“While I would prefer steering the savings to deficit reduction—as I proposed in my bill—I fully support repealing the 3 percent withholding requirement, and using the Medicaid savings for jobs and to help our economy grow,” Nelson said. More…

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NELSON HONORS FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN MARINES

November 8: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “As we honor all veterans this week and appreciate the sacrifices they have made, it is important to recognize the Montford Point Marines as true trailblazers. Not only did they fight to protect the American way of life, their service and loyalty to our country helped advance the American ideals of equality and freedom for all,” said Senator Nelson, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. More…

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NELSON JOINS BIPARTISAN “FAIR COMPLIANCE ACT” TO PRESERVE NEBRASKA JOBS AND AVOID UTILITY BILL HIKES

November 9: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “Our bill gives Nebraska utilities—such as Omaha Public Power District, Nebraska Public Power District and smaller systems such as Hastings Utility in Hastings—extra breathing room to make technological adjustments and retrofit their plants, so they can reduce their air emissions. That will help Nebraskans and all Americans breathe easier,” Senator Nelson said today on his weekly conference call with Nebraska media representatives.

“It’s not that the utilities, and hundreds of others nationwide, don’t want to comply with federal rules. They do.

“But they face major challenges in meeting deadlines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. I’m fighting to preserve the hundreds of jobs that will be supported by the utilities upgrading their plants. And I’m fighting against EPA bureaucrats requiring that the upgrade be done so fast they’ll have little choice but to raise electricity rates through the roof for many Nebraskans,” said Nelson. More…

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NELSON COMMENTS ON KEYSTONE PIPELINE ROUTING

November 9: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: Today, during his weekly conference call with Nebraska media representatives, Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson made the following comments on the special legislative session called by Governor Heineman on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and its route through Nebraska:

“It is unfortunate that the Legislature is dealing with this now rather than three years ago, two years ago, or even last session,” Senator Nelson said. “Had the state of Nebraska worked with TransCanada on the route in the beginning of this process, they wouldn’t be in crisis mode trying to address it now.

“That being said, I do not think it is too late to act. If the Legislature does not act, then it falls back on the Governor to bring the parties together to arrive at a solution.

“In any event, it would be unfair to Nebraskans if state officials failed to exercise their authority to determine a route based on what is in the best interest of Nebraska.

“It’s a state’s rights issue, purely and simply, and what good are state’s rights if elected officials refuse to exercise them and let Washington make the decisions for them, directly or through acquiescence?”

Audio: http://bennelson.senate.gov/audio/pipelineaudio110911.mp3

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SENATOR BEN NELSON’S VETERANS DAY MESSAGE

November 10: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “Veterans Day is an important and somber time when we pause to honor the dead and the living; the young men and women who in every war have shown their courage and their loyalty to our country.

“This is a day when Americans celebrate and honor our veterans, for their patriotism, their love of country, their willingness to serve, and for their sacrifice for the common good.

“As President Kennedy said during Veterans Day ceremonies 50 years ago, ‘I do not believe that any nation in the history of the world has buried its soldiers farther from its native soil than we Americans……

“Or buried them closer to the towns in which they grew up.’

“Veterans kept their promise to us by carrying out their duties with honor and America must always keep its promises to them. We’re helping to do that in the Heartland area by overhauling the Omaha VA Medical Center and establishing a new National Cemetery in eastern Nebraska.

“The contributions veterans have made for liberty cannot be measured, and their sacrifice will never be forgotten.” Watch…

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SENATE PASSES THE VOW TO HIRE HEROES ACT

November 10: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “Tomorrow, Nebraskans will join all Americans in paying tribute to our veterans for their contributions and sacrifices in the cause of liberty, but the men and women who wear our country’s uniform deserve our gratitude every day,” said Senator Nelson, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Helping to create job opportunities for our veterans after they return home is a meaningful way to say thank you to our veterans and help the economy at the same time.

“The need is great. Today, unfortunately, more than one in four veterans between the ages of 20 and 24 is unemployed.”

Overall, roughly 8,300 Nebraska veterans are unemployed, an estimated 5.8 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“When our veterans come home, we shouldn’t just shake their hands for a job well done on the battlefield and then send them out the door to look for a job back home,” Nelson said. “Just as it takes specialized training to become an effective soldier, the transition back to civilian life can be a lot more difficult than a returning veteran might expect.” More…

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Ben Nelson 14% rating from Family Research Council Council and CitizenLink

FRC Council: Vote Scorecard: Ben Nelson 14% More…

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Letter, 10/28: Shocked by Local View

Lincoln Journal Star: The Local View column by Robert Eppler, state director of AARP, “Seniors aren’t just numbers in budget” (Oct. 14), presents a strange dichotomy. Eppler points to the congressional supercommittee as the potential source of significant cuts to Medicare benefits and services to seniors.

The column is timely because we also see Sen. Ben Nelson’s ads taking aim at both Democrats and Republicans, i.e., the supercommittee, as the main threat to Medicare.

Hang on. Weren’t the star players for Obamacare Nelson (who was the 60th vote) and the national AARP? This redirection coming from both the AARP director and Nelson looks much like a misdirection play in football. The real cuts in Medicare happened when Obamacare was passed.

Here are some facts concerning Medicare cuts. Obamacare will cut $818 billion over 10 years from Medicare Part A hospital insurance. Adding in the cuts from Medicare Part B, physicians fees and services, brings the total cuts to Medicare to $1.05 trillion over 10 years. I prefer to call these haircuts.

The AARP and Nelson will continue to attempt to convince us that the Medicare cuts are coming from other sources. The national AARP helped push Obamacare through Congress by contributing to a $121 million advertising campaign and paying for millions of dollars worth of Washington lobbying.

Let’s be honest as to how devastating Obamacare will be to everyone in terms of jobs lost, higher health care costs, higher taxes and loss of services.

Karl Kollmorgen, Lincoln

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Local View: State agency should have pipeline authority

Lincoln Journal Star: October 29: Sen. Annette Dubas: I am not opposed to oil pipelines. I understand meeting energy needs will continue to be a challenge and the advantages of working with our friends to the north. I also understand the potential economic benefits that accompany the jobs and tax revenues of siting an oil pipeline.

However, I do not believe giving the federal government or pipeline companies total control over decisions impacting Nebraska’s land use is in our best interest. Citizens deserve a seat at the table while such determinations are being considered.

These facts led me to introduce legislation last session that empowered the Nebraska Public Service Commission to create a process to review oil pipeline siting.

Unfortunately, an effective and concerted lobbying effort to keep any pipeline bill from advancing prevented even a full and fair discussion of the topic. In the interim, pressure from U.S. Sens. Ben Nelson and Mike Johanns caused the U.S. State Department to conduct another round of public hearings in each state along the pipeline route. Those hearings intensified the public outcry for the governor and Legislature to take action. Because of citizen involvement, we are here today, about to begin a special session.

While the main focus of the current public discourse is re-routing the pipeline, my original motives for legislation remain.

We need a state agency that has the authority to represent Nebraskans in determining the best interests of our state, and an eminent domain law that allows for economic progress while respecting landowners’ rights.

I have worked with some of the most well-respected and experienced legal minds in the state to ensure that we can pass constitutionally sound legislation.

While hindsight is always 20/20, it can provide clarity for the present. The special session affords us an opportunity to bring that clarity and a purpose into this debate. More…

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Letter, 10/31: Nelson’s lukewarm status

Lincoln Journal Star: How interesting to see that the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste rated Sen. Ben Nelson the lowest of all the Nebraska congressional delegation. While Sen. Mike Johanns was rated as a “hero” at 90 percent and our three congressmen were rated from 89 percent to 77 percent, Nelson was rated “lukewarm” at 50 percent.

In light of his recent commercials touting his fiscal conservatism, this rating seems to dispute that claim. On top of his 60th vote for the Obamacare debacle, this should tell all Nebraskans that it’s time for a change.

Steve Tonkin, Lincoln

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Next jobs bill faces hard road

POLITICO: October 31: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared Monday that Democrats are the only ones “fighting to create good-paying American jobs.” But he again could face a handful of defections from his own party when he brings the next jobs bill to the floor this week.

Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, a moderate Democrat who’s facing a tough reelection next year, said he’ll take a look at the latest jobs proposal — a $60 billion package to help rebuild aging infrastructure — but continues to have concerns about the fact that these bills have been funded by raising taxes on the rich.

“I have some of the same concerns about the way it’s paid for,” Nelson told POLITICO on Monday night.

Earlier this month, Nelson and Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) joined all Republicans in voting to filibuster President Barack Obama’s sweeping $447 billion jobs package. A week later, Nelson, Lieberman and Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) joined Republicans in blocking debate on a $35 billion bill for state aid to pay for teachers, police officers and firefighters — Democrats’ first effort to break the jobs package into individual pieces. More…

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Jim Webb goes out swinging

POLITICO: November 1: Webb’s departure also highlights the increasing Democratic struggles in keeping control of traditionally Republican states that they were successful in winning in the 2006 and 2008 elections.

“I think like all of us, he’s distressed by the fact that you have trouble getting something done,” said Sen. Ben Nelson, the conservative Nebraska Democrat, who has also opposed the recent jobs plans. “But extreme partisanship is not what he or I would prefer.” More…

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Dems seek to fracture Senate GOP unity

The Hill: November 2: Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.), the upper chamber’s most conservative Democrat, said he would consider voting for the Democratic jobs bill, even though it raises taxes on income, an indication of the popularity of infrastructure spending in Congress.

Nelson voted with Republicans to block the last two Democratic jobs bills.  More…

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Nelson still pondering re-election decision

Lincoln Journal Star: November 2: Nelson said he will weigh his family’s views along with a personal judgment on “whether I believe I have a role to play in dealing with a very divided Congress in a very divided country, whether I could be constructive in finding some solutions, whether I am convinced I can be a positive force for the following six years.”

Nelson has his campaign leadership in place, has blanketed the state with a series of TV ads paid for by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, has raised campaign funds and banked more than $3 million for a re-election bid, but he still has not yet left the starting gate, pushed the go button, pulled the trigger.

“I’m not trying to drag this out,” the two-term Democratic senator said. “There is no theater involved in this.

“It’s more that I just don’t want to be a candidate any longer than I need to be or (it’s more difficult) to do the job I’m elected to do.”

Tuesday’s interview provided no clear hints or clues as to what Nelson ultimately will do. But there was a clear understanding that he might not say yes.

If he seeks re-election next year, Nebraska is likely to be one of the key battlegrounds in determining control of the Senate. If he decides to step aside at the end of his current term, Democrats will be hard-pressed to compete for an open seat in a staunchly Republican state during a presidential election year.

Nelson said the possibility that he could lose a re-election bid in 2012 is not a factor in his final decision.

“I do not have to have assurance I would win,” he said. “I’m a risk-taker. That would not be the deciding factor by a wide margin.”

Yes, Nelson acknowledged, “we poll from time to time” in an effort to measure voter views and sentiment.

“But those results would not be the defining factor at all,” he said. More…

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Dems Up To $1.2 Million for Ben Nelson

National Journal: Hotline: On Call: November 3: Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., may not be certain about whether he’ll run for re-election, but the Nebraska Democratic Party is sure sinking a lot of money into their hopes that he will.

Nebraska Democrats have spent a total of just under $1.25 million on television ads on Nelson’s behalf, including $138,658 in ads running this week and $139,968 running next week, according to a Republican source who keeps track of ad buys.

Much of the money — the vast majority, in all likelihood — comes from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which had transferred at least $865,000 to the state party through the end of September (The Democratic National Committee has chipped in another $76,000).

The Nebraska Democratic Party has then used that cash to run early advertisements, ranging from 300 to about 450 gross ratings points in each of the state’s major markets, continuously since September 8. So far, Democrats have run 3,700 points in Omaha, 3,600 in Lincoln, 3,500 in Sioux City and 3,400 in the North Platte market, as well as a smattering of smaller cable buys. More…

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Our ancient Senate: Ben Nelson has never used an ATM

Salon: November 4: Sen. Tom Harkin introduced an amendment to the finance reform bill capping ATM fees at 50 cents. But Harry Reid apparently decided that it wasn’t worth attempting to bring it to a vote.

“I’ve never used an ATM, so I don’t know what the fees are,” Nelson said, adding that he gets his cash from bank tellers, just not automatic ones. “It’s true, I don’t know how to use one. More…

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Nelson vows fight for EAS

McCook Daily Gazette: November 3: Sen. Ben Nelson told the 100-or-so gathered for a Chamber of Commerce mixer this morning that he knows the importance of air service to the economic vitality of rural states and rural communities, and will continue to fight for federal funding that subsidizes scheduled commercial air service to communities like McCook.

Tim Monzon of McCook told the senator that about 60 Nebraska National Guardsmen and Army Reservists rely on air service to and from McCook.

Nelson said the Transportation Authorization Bill passed out of the Senate Tuesday, and Senate conferees could get it as early as tonight.

“We’re working to keep Essential Air Service,” Nelson said. “I’m optimistic we will be able to get that done.”

He continued, “If there are no real changes, it will be done.” If there are changes, he said, it goes back to the House and Senate.

Sen. Nelson said he is less optimistic about the appropriations bill that will fund EAS. The Senator said he is not comfortable that a “Deficit Super Committee” — “12 people that I did not vote for … that Nebraskans did not vote for” — will decide how to make $1.5 trillion in “controversial cuts” in federal funding by Nov. 23. More…

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Senate gridlock: Both parties block jobs bills

POLITICO: November 7: Senate Democrats on Thursday came up nine votes short of the 60 needed to advance their infrastructure bill past a key procedural hurdle. The vote was 51-49, with all Republicans and two members of the Democratic caucus — Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) — voting no.  More…

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Democrats Aim to Localize 2012 Senate Races

Real Clear Politics: Caitlin Huey-Burns: November 3: For the 2012 cycle, Democrats are advising their incumbents and recruits to make their individual elections “a choice between the two people on the ballot . . . and not simply allow it to be a nationalized election,” said Guy Cecil, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, at a briefing with reporters Thursday hosted by the centrist think tank Third Way. “I think it’s part of the reason why we were successful in Colorado, and I think it’s part of the reason why we will be successful in a lot of these incumbent states around the country.”

Even though they currently hold a majority, Senate Democrats have a difficult task ahead of them. They are working with a large map and have 23 seats to defend, compared to 10 for the Republicans. The GOP needs to win four Democratic seats in order to win the majority in the Senate, and the party is targeting four red states that didn’t swing for Obama in 2008: Missouri, Montana, Nebraska and North Dakota.

Having the president’s name on the same ballot poses an additional challenge for Democrats running in red states, which is why Democrats will try to make each race a two-candidate contest rather than a three-candidate one.

Republicans counter that the Democratic incumbents’ records make it difficult for them to move away from Obama.

“That theory might have some relevance if the elections were taking place in fantasy land, but in reality they’re taking place in states that have borne the brunt of the Democrats’ failed economic policies, which every one of their candidates is on record supporting,” said Brian Walsh, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “At the end of the day, the president is on the top of the ticket with all of these senators. Coupled with that, senators like Jon Tester, Claire McCaskill and Ben Nelson have voted for a lot of his major spending initiatives. They’re tied to the hip with the president.” More…

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What We Learned: How Not To Be Seen

National Journal: Hotline: On Call: November 5: — Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., sounds less like a candidate this week than he did last week. That’s terrible news for Democrats; ask any senior party strategist and they’ll tell you the more a candidate moves away from the idea of running for re-election, the harder it is to reverse the momentum. Democrats have already sunk $1.2 million into Nelson’s re-elect. Watch to see if they keep that pace up. If the ads stop, Nelson’s probably signaled his intentions to the powers that be. More…

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Pipeline foes circle White House

Omaha World Herald: November 7: The Keystone XL would carry oil from the tar sands of Canada to refineries in Texas, crossing Nebraska’s Sand Hills and the aquifer along the way. Because it crosses an international border, the State Department is in charge of the permit process.

But President Barack Obama recently indicated in a TV interview that he will make the ultimate decision on the pipeline.

Sunday’s protest was aimed at reminding Obama about his environmental rhetoric on the 2008 campaign trail. Obama quotes were stamped on many of the signs among the crowd, which organizers estimated at about 12,000. Police put the estimate at 5,000.

That included a contingent of at least 27 Nebraskans, who were easy to spot with their red Husker gear and foam “corn fingers” calling for TransCanada to be stopped.

And yet the pipeline has drawn opposition from others who don’t exactly fit the oil-hating environmental stereotype, such as Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman and Sen. Mike Johanns, both Republicans, and Sen. Ben Nelson, a Democrat. More…

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Ben Nelson ads blur lines, invite violations

Kearney Hub: November 7: Sen. Ben Nelson could serve the state by showing leadership of a different kind on campaign finance. At issue are television ads — including one in which Nelson with a straight face portrays himself as a Washington outsider complaining about how politicians in the nation’s capital “don’t get it” — paid for by the Nebraska Democratic Party with money allocated to it by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

 

Nelson contends they are issue ads, because Nelson does not ask for your vote, and thus are not subject to a $240,000 funding limit set according to federal law. The ads have cost more than $600,000.  More…

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Stenberg grabs DeMint’s support for Neb. Senate

The Hill: Ballot Box: November 7: Stenberg, Nebraska’s state treasurer, is running to unseat Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who has not yet announced whether he will run for reelection. But most of the attention in the GOP primary has gone to Jon Bruning, the state’s attorney general.

“Don Stenberg is a lifelong conservative with the principles, integrity, and courage needed to stand up to the big spenders in both political parties in Washington,” DeMint said in a statement released by Senate Conservatives Fund, the PAC that DeMint chairs.

Conservative leaders and some Tea Party groups have been vocal in their support for Stenberg over Bruning. FreedomWorks, a well funded Tea Party PAC, endorsed Stenberg in September, as have conservative commentators Mark Levin and Erick Erickson. But Tea Party Express, another influential conservative group, has backed Bruning. More…

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A look ahead to the key races in the Midwest in 2012

USA Today: November 7: Nebraska: Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson is seeking re-election. Nelson’s seat has attracted several GOP hopefuls including state Sen. Deb Fischer, state Attorney General Jon Bruning and state Treasurer Don Stenberg. Bruning has received endorsements from the Tea Party as well as former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.

In the 2nd District Republican Rep. Lee Terry will be challenged by fellow Republican Jack Heidel, a mathematics professor at the University of Nebraska. Also in the Republican race is former University of Nebraska football player Brett Lindstrom. Democrats John Ewing, Douglas County Treasurer, and state Sen. Gwen Howard are also running.

Nebraska’s Legislature consists of only one body — the Senate, which is non-partisan and has 49 members. State senators are limited to two four-year terms. In 2012, eight legislators must step down. More…

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Bruning makes campaign stop in Beatrice

Beatrice Daily Sun: November 9: Jon Bruning says his decision to run for a seat in the U.S. Senate was simple.

“I’m running to take power back for the American people,” Bruning said Monday night during a campaign dinner held at the Kilpatrick mansion in Beatrice. “Government has gotten too big. We need to reduce the size and scope of government.”
Bruning, who currently serves as Nebraska Attorney General, faces a contentious Republican primary. Other challengers include Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer of Valentine, Nebraska State Auditor Don Stenberg, Pat Flynn of Schuyler and Spencer Zimmerman of Omaha.

The winner of the 2012 GOP primary hopes to unseat Democratic incumbent Ben Nelson.

“When Ben Nelson took over we were $5 trillion in debt. Now we’re $15 trillion in debt,” said Bruning, who also reminded those in attendance of Nelson’s part in helping President Barack Obama pass “Obamacare,” a nationwide healthcare plan which Bruning believes to be unconstitutional.

Bruning also took a swipe at Stenberg, who unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate in 1996, 2000 and 2006.

“I promise you on my mother’s grave,” Bruning said. “You won’t see me run for Senate four times, I’ll take a hint.” More…

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Nelson: Don’t wait on feds to change pipeline route

Omaha World-Herald: November 9: U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson urged Nebraska lawmakers on Wednesday to pass a bill to direct routing of crude-oil pipelines instead of waiting to see whether federal regulators are seeking a new route for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

The Associated Press and Reuters both reported, using unnamed sources, that the U.S. Department of State was now pursuing a new route for the 36-inch pipeline that would bypass Nebraska’s ecologically sensitive Sand Hills.

That step, the reports said, would delay a final decision on the $7 billion, 1,700-mile-long for at least a year, until after the 2012 elections.

Nelson, during a teleconference call with reporters, said he wasn’t sure if the reports are true.

Nebraska legislators now meeting in special session can render that question moot if they pass a law to reroute the pipeline — a move supported by Nelson, U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns, U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry and Gov. Dave Heineman.

Said Nelson, “There’s a special session under way, and it’s my hope that they’ll be successful in determining the pipeline’s route this year and then we won’t have to deal with whether or not the administration is going to be engaged in routing.”

The senator called routing “a states’ rights issue,” adding that “what good are states’ rights if elected officials refuse to exercise them and let Washington make the decisions for them, directly or through acquiescence.” More…

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Colbert zings Nelson’s ‘issue ads’

Omaha World-Herald: November 10: Video: Watch video of Stephen Colbert talking about Ben Nelson ads He noted that Democrats claim the Nelson spots are not campaign ads promoting a candidate, but rather issue ads not subject to the restrictions.

He then played one of the ads that features Nelson looking into the camera and talking about his commitment to protect seniors in the budget debate.

“Clearly an issue ad. The issue? Ben Nelson is pretty great,” Colbert said. “So I say bravo Democrats. You are blazing a campaign trail to be followed by super PAC pioneers in their Conestoga money wagons.” More…

Categories: Nebraska politics Tags:

State Senator Dan Lederman says South Dakotan’s have impression that Romney is too moderate.

Weekly Clips from October 27, 2011 to November 10, 2011

U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., S.D. U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson, and S.D. State Sen. Dan Lederman, R-16

U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D.

Johnson Speaks at Camp Rapid Grand Openings

October 28: Pressroom: U.S. Senator Tim Johnson: U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD), Chairman of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee, addressed the grand opening of three state-of-the-art buildings at Camp Rapid. Through his chairmanship, Johnson helped secure over $50 million for the construction of a new Joint Force Headquarters-Readiness Center, a new barracks/classroom building and the renovation of the Troop Medical Clinic.

“This construction has changed the face of Camp Rapid. It is amazing to see the transformation over the past decade,” Johnson said. “Investments in the Guard are investments in our communities, our state and our nation’s security.”

The 170,000-square-foot Joint Force Headquarters-Readiness Center has classrooms, a dining facility and work stations for more than 400 Guard members. Johnson helped get the project off the ground when he secured a $900,000 earmark in Fiscal Year 2008 and secured another $7.89 million earmark in FY 2010. In FY 2009, the President’s budget request included $29 million for this project and Johnson ushered this funding through his subcommittee. More…

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Johnson Statement on Interior Announcement Regarding Blood Run, Dakota Grasslands

October 28: Pressroom: U.S. Senator Tim Johnson: I applaud the Department of the Interior for highlighting these valuable conservation projects. I have long worked with state officials and local stakeholders on the Blood Run project and believe it offers a tremendous opportunity for outdoor recreation and historic preservation.  Similarly, our state’s native grasslands contribute to the high quality hunting and wildlife watching our state offers.  Matching conservation practices with working lands is a great way to take even greater advantage of the economic benefits of outdoor recreation. Secretary Salazar’s announcement today is a sign that folks understand the importance of South Dakota’s outdoor treasures. More…

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Johnson Honors Newell Family as Angels in Adoption, Discusses FASD in Rapid City

October 28: Pressroom: U.S. Senator Tim Johnson: “After being inspired by their story, I appreciated the opportunity to meet with Nora Boesem and her family today and present her with this much-deserved recognition,” Johnson said. “As we heard from Dr. Usera, it is very challenging to raise a child suffering from FASD, let alone nine.  This family has gone out of their way to improve the lives of many South Dakota children, including those with special needs, and is the epitome of Angels in Adoption.” More…

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Johnson: DOT to Continue Delta Service In Pierre In To New Year

November 2: Pressroom: U.S. Senator Tim Johnson: “This is very good news for Pierre,” said Johnson. “Keeping the Pierre to Minneapolis flights in place into the new year will prevent a break in service as the City works with airlines to keep this important route servicing the area. This announcement is welcome news, especially with the holidays right around the corner.” More…

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Johnson Chairs Hearing on Financial Protections for Servicemembers and Veterans

November 3: Pressroom: U.S. Senator Tim Johnson: “Our nation owes a debt of gratitude to the nearly 1.5 million active-duty servicemembers protecting America at home and abroad, as well as to the 22 million veterans who have served in the armed forces,” said Chairman Johnson. “Servicemembers and veterans have been hit hard by the financial crisis, caused by reckless behavior on Wall Street and a lack of consumer protections. I take special interest in this matter, not only as the father of a soldier, but also as a senator from a state that has over 72,000 veterans and more than 3,500 military personnel at Ellsworth Air Force Base. I am proud and thankful for Ms. Spain’s work to benefit South Dakotans facing tough financial challenges, and I appreciate her traveling to Washington for this hearing.”  More…

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JOHNSON STATEMENT ON JANKLOW ANNOUNCEMENT

November 4: Pressroom: U.S. Senator Tim Johnson: My wife Barbara and I are saddened by this news. Our thoughts and prayers are with Bill and his family during this difficult time.

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Johnson Asks South Dakotans to Share Ideas for Federal Budget

November 8: Pressroom: U.S. Senator Tim Johnson: “I have received input from South Dakotans over the years on our budget deficit, but wanted to create this form to allow folks to more easily send me their thoughts on the federal budget,” Johnson said.  “As I travel around our state, I hear great feedback regarding both what funding folks want to see preserved and what they would cut, and I am expecting to get that same response on my website.” More…

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Johnson’s Minuteman Missile Bill Clears Committee

November 10: Pressroom: U.S. Senator Tim Johnson: “I’m glad that Republicans and Democrats on the Energy Committee came together today to advance my legislation. Helping people in our state and across the nation learn more about this historic site is not a partisan issue. The full Senate should consider this legislation as quickly as possible and allow the National Park Service to move forward with plans to build this visitor center,” said Johnson. More…

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Tim Johnson earns 0% rating from Family Research Council Council and CitizenLink

FRC Council: Vote Scorecard: Tim Johnson- 0% More…

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WOSTER: Rounds keeps eye on 2014

Rapid City Journal: October 30: Ask Mike Rounds what his campaign plans are for 2012 and he takes the coy road.

“None that I know of,” the former governor says. “I’m a businessman these days.”

The dodge takes a different turn when you ask about 2014, however.

“Oh, you never know,” Rounds says.

Rounds is right, of course. We don’t know what he’ll be doing when the 2014 campaign cycle rolls around. But we do know that Democratic U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson will be up for re-election, should the three-term senator decide to try for four.

We also know the U.S. House seat now held by Republican Kristi Noem will be in play, with Noem likely to be the incumbent considering both a House re-election race or a try for Johnson’s Senate seat.

We also know there’s a low-odds possibility that Noem could get beat in her re-election bid for the House next year. And we could see former Democratic Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin get back in the game, depending on Noem’s standing with voters and Tim Johnson’s plans.

And Rounds? He’s a threat at any level of political campaign in South Dakota. And the fact that he has a new political action committee — named the Peter Norbeck PAC — leads some to believe he’s more than a little likely to make a run for something in a few years.

“I think the creation of a PAC is an indication that Rounds is looking at doing something in 2014,” says John Schaff, a political science professor at Northern State University in Aberdeen. “It doesn’t take much imagination to guess that he has his eyes on the Johnson Senate seat.”

Some think Johnson’s son, Brendan, the U.S. attorney in Sioux Falls, has his eyes on the same seat, should his dad decide that 28 years in Congress, including five House terms, is enough. More…

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Lawmakers Push For More Funding for Lewis And Clark Water

KDLT: November 3: U.S. lawmakers are putting the full court press on the Obama Administration to provide more funding for the Lewis and Clark Water Project. The system would bring clean water from the Missouri river to 300,000 people in South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota.

The congressional delegations from the 3 states met with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and other leaders in Washington, DC on Thursday. Among those at the meeting were Senator John Thune and Senator Al Franken of Minnesota.

“ I think the important thing is Secretary Salazar understood the importance of this project to South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa. He understands it’s a jobs project and I was prevailing on him to really focus on Lewis & Clark”. Said Franken.

Senator Thune believes he got his point across when he showed numbers indicating just how much rural water projects have been cut compared to other projects.

“Ken Salazar is an old colleague of mine I worked with him in the senate. I felt like he got the message, rural water has just not been a priority for the administration.” Said Thune.

Representative Kristi Noem and Senator Tim Johnson also took part in the meeting. The total cost of the project is estimated at 374 million dollars, but with delays that number will likely rise.

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Johnson backs bill to ease hardship on military families

KTIV: November 9: Financial hardships are something that many of us deal with at one time or another.

But for our troops, their families, and even veterans, it can especially be a challenge.

In order to combat the problem, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is looking for a director to regulate non-bank financial institutions.

Doing so would assist troops to avoid hidden fees, prevent getting caught in illegal mortgage lending practices, and know where to go to get help if need be.

According to the bureau’s Assistant Director, Holly Petreaus, helping soldiers with financial issues also gives them emotional relief. “A soldier who is preoccupied with financial troubles is not able to give 100% of their attention to their job and if they are over in a combat situation, that can be dangerous both for them and for the people with whom they serve,” said Holly Petreaus, assistant director of the Office of Servicemember Affairs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Petreaus and South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson say a major source of financial trouble is a mobile lifestyle… that makes paying off a house and education decisions difficult.

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Letters: Disappointment with Rounds

Sioux Falls Argus Leader: Jay Davis: October 31: Mike Rounds is a very nice guy. That was enough to get him elected governor in 2002, when his opponents in the Republican primary threw mud at each other and basically ignored Rounds.

It’s disappointing that this “nice guy” is forming a political action committee called the Peter Norbeck PAC to promote his future ambitions, including a possible challenge to Sen. Tim Johnson. Norbeck was South Dakota’s greatest governor, a true conservationist who gave us Custer State Park and promoted construction of Mount Rushmore. More…

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AARP Volunteers Visit Congressional Offices

KDLT News: October 31: About 40 South Dakota AARP volunteers loaded a bus to visit Senator Tim Johnson, Representative Kristi Noem, and Senator John Thune’s district offices, all to share their concern about the discussion to cut Medicare and Social Security benefits.

“They do not want the federal financial budget problems solved on the backs of an aging population,” said Pat Gross, volunteer state president for AARP South Dakota.

The AARP volunteers represent thousands of South Dakotans who have signed petitions, made phone calls and shared personal stories, all trying to portray the importance of Medicare and Social Security benefits in the lives of seniors.

“I have a daughter who was born deaf and because of Social Security, she was able to get an education,” said George Smith, a South Dakota resident and volunteer for AARP

The senior volunteers are raise concerns that if cuts are made the funds seniors have counted on to be there might not be enough.

“The benefits they are talking about cutting are benefits that we have earned and paid for,” said Gross.

“That is something we have all paid in to all of our life with the idea that it would be there when we needed it,” said Smith.  More…

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VA pitches $10M face-lift

Sioux Falls Argus Leader: November 6: Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., is chairman of the Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs within the Senate Appropriations Committee. While noting ongoing improvements at the VA Medical Center in recent years, including work on the elevators, as well as on the oncology and mental health units, “there is always room for further enhancements,” Johnson said in an emailed statement.

“I will do what I can. … to ensure the VA has the resources they need to properly care for our veterans, both in South Dakota and across our nation,” he said.

Johnson must see whether Obama puts money for the project into the VA budget. If the president does that at anything less than the $9.3 million needed, Johnson at least can advocate for more dollars in the VA budgetary pie with the hope that the increase will filter down to Sioux Falls. More…

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S.D. State Sen. Dan Lederman, R-16

Politically Speaking: South Dakota GOP to hold presidential straw poll

Sioux Falls Argus Leader: November 4: Bret Hayworth: State Sen. Dan Lederman, R-Dakota Dunes, said he figures the straw poll will be attended primarily by a small core of Republican activists. Lederman heads the local Republican Jewish Coalition chapter, which has brought Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Herman Cain for Sioux City speeches. Lederman said he won’t endorse a presidential candidate.

“I’ve stayed neutral, because I have friends in all the camps,” he said.

Lederman nonetheless handicapped how he sees the candidates shaking out in the straw poll. His top five in order: (1) Rick Perry, (2) Michele Bachmann, (3) Cain, (4) Gingrich and (5) Santorum.

Lederman didn’t pick Mitt Romney, Ron Paul or Jon Huntsman with his top five prediction. Romney has been a national poll leader for months, but Lederman said South Dakotans have the impression he’s too moderate.

“They have more connection to Perry,” he said.

Lederman spoke a bit about Cain, who has had a rough week after charges of sexual harassment surfaced, dating to the time he led the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s. Lederman said he likes Cain and the allegations could be a “smear job,” but contended the candidate didn’t respond ably. He predicted Cain’s polling numbers – he’s been neck-and-neck with Romney for about a month — could begin to fall in about a week. More…

Categories: South Dakota politics Tags:

Kent Conrad urges Heidi Heitkamp to run for Senate…

Weekly Clips October 27, 2011 through November 10, 2011

U.S. Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D. At-Large and Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley, R-N.D., 2012 U.S. House Campaigns for N.D.

Berg Highlights North Dakota Energy Success on Bakken Field Tour

October 28: Rick Berg-U.S. Rep.: Pressroom: Berg also met today with local elected officials and energy industry leaders to discuss the economic impact of increased oil and natural gas production in the Williston Basin and the infrastructure challenges the city has encountered as it responds to recent population growth.

At the meeting held this afternoon at City Hall, Berg expressed his concern that moratoriums on drilling and overbearing regulations implemented under the Obama Administration posed as threats to North Dakota energy production and job creation. “Washington doesn’t get it—jobs come from small business, not big government,” Berg stated.  “President Obama’s onerous regulations continue to obstruct American energy producers’ efforts to create jobs and invest in our economic recovery.  It’s time to rein in the senseless regulations and encourage a comprehensive long-term energy plan that would help break our dependence on foreign oil and create thousands of good America jobs.” More…

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Berg Calls on Corps to Empower States in River Management

November 2: Rick Berg-U.S. Rep.: Pressroom: “I strongly disagree with this decision,” Berg stated. “The people of North Dakota are more than just frustrated.  They have lost so much to flooding and they deserve more say in the Corps management of the water levels. The Corps should do everything within its power to prevent another devastating flood next spring. Unfortunately, this recent decision suggests the Corps is continuing forward with the same management plan that failed so badly this spring.  Things need to change now, before the people of North Dakota and other Missouri River states are faced with another devastating loss.”

Berg’s full remarks can be viewed here.  Video download is also available here. More…

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Berg Announces Corps to Testify Before Congress on 2011 Flooding

November 3: Rick Berg-U.S. Rep.: Pressroom: “This year’s flood event devastated communities up and down the Missouri River. The people of North Dakota and other Missouri River states deserve honest answers from the Corps about the decisions and events that influenced this disaster, the timing of these decisions and the steps the Corps intends on taking to prevent a repeat disaster,” Berg stated.  “This hearing will allow us to gain a better understanding of what influenced the size and scope of this flood and what can be done to ensure it does not happen again.” More…

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Berg Statement on Latest Unemployment Report

November 4: Rick Berg-U.S. Rep.: Pressroom: “National unemployment remains unacceptably high, and today’s report is further proof that President Obama’s spend and borrow, big-government approach doesn’t work to get Americans back to work,” Berg stated.   “In North Dakota, we know that jobs come from small business, not big government.  That’s why together with my colleagues in the House, I’ve worked to pass 15 bipartisan, job-creating bills, yet Senate Democrats and President Obama continue to block them.  Instead, President Obama continues to promote his big-government, big-spending agenda and forces new overreaching regulations on American families and small businesses, which continue to hinder America’s small businesses and their ability to create jobs. To get Americans back to work, Washington needs to step back and give America’s small businesses the certainty to do what they do best: create jobs and invest in our economy.” More…

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Berg Bill Fights Obama Administration’s Overreach in State Regional Haze Management

November 4: Rick Berg-U.S. Rep.: Pressroom: Congressman Rick Berg today introduced legislation that would rein in the Obama Administration’s federal takeover of state regional haze management, which threatens to create more business uncertainty, stifle job creation and increase energy costs for American families and small businesses.

Berg’s bill, the “Regional Haze Federalism Act,” will limit the ability of EPA to unilaterally override States’ management of regional haze and empower states to implement haze management plans that best fit their individual needs. Congressman James Lankford (R-OK) serves as an original co-sponsor to Berg’s bill.

“With each new overreaching, one-size-fits-none mandate, the Obama Administration continues to burden states with unnecessary costs and regulations that hinder job creation and prevent states from being able to do what’s best for their residents and resources,” Berg stated. “In North Dakota alone, President Obama’s regulatory overreach could cost $700 million – costs that could increase electric rates on North Dakota consumers and small businesses.  If we are truly committed to creating jobs and lowering energy costs, it’s time to rein in President Obama’s overbearing EPA and empower states to make decisions that will best benefit their unique needs.” More…

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Berg Fights to Protect Rural Hospitals

October 7: Rick Berg-U.S. Rep.: Pressroom: “Growing up in Hettinger, I understand the important role that our critical access hospitals hold in providing quality, accessible healthcare to rural communities,” Berg stated. “As we work to get our fiscal house in order, Washington needs to tighten its belt, but we also must support our priorities. Rural hospitals, which serve as primary sources of both healthcare services and employment in many rural regions, face unique challenges in providing healthcare to communities they serve. It’s critical that our rural healthcare providers and facilities receive the support they need to provide stable healthcare services to rural America.”  More…

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Berg, ND State Legislators Call for Passage of Balanced Budget Amendment

November 8: Rick Berg-U.S. Rep.: Pressroom: “In order to change Washington, we need to first change the way Washington works.  I believe a balanced budget amendment is the only mechanism that would halt President Obama’s out-of-control spending and force Washington not to spend more than it takes in,” Berg stated. “Fifteen years ago, Congress had the opportunity to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment, and it failed by a single vote in the Senate.  Since then, our national debt has nearly tripled in size to almost $15 trillion. In comparison, North Dakota has worked to balance its budgets and leads by example through smart policies that focus on the next generation.  Today, North Dakota has a budget surplus and leads the nation in job growth.  Washington can learn a lot about the way we do things here in North Dakota and that’s why I will proudly support a Balanced Budget Amendment when it comes before Congress.” More…

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Berg: Balanced Budget Amendment Needed to Restrain Obama’s Spending, Change the Way Washington Works

November 10: Rick Berg-U.S. Rep.: Pressroom: “In North Dakota, we work hard to hand off a better future to the next generation, and that’s what our state has done by balancing its budgets and adopting common sense policies that encourage private sector job creation and economic growth.  Meanwhile, President Obama has taken Washington in the complete opposite direction.”  Berg stated. “The time for a balanced budget amendment is now.  Washington isn’t just broken—it’s broke.  President Obama’s out-of-control spending and Washington’s inability to live within its means has driven our nation deep into debt, forcing our children and grandchildren to be burdened with nearly $15 trillion in debt.  I believe a balanced budget amendment is the only mechanism that would ensure that Washington spends no more than it takes in.  Washington could learn a lot from the way we do things here in North Dakota, which is why I will fight for a balanced budget amendment when it comes before Congress.” More…

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Rick Berg earns 90% rating from Family Research Council Council and CitizenLink

FRC Council: Vote Scorecard: Rick Berg- 90% More…

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Berg Tours the Bakken

KFYR-TV: October 28: U.S. Congressman Rick Berg visited Williston today and brought along a fellow congressman from Illinois.

The purpose was to highlight North Dakota`s success in energy production, and also discuss some challenges the city of Williston is facing.

First Congressman Berg visited with city officials. They discussed their land struggle with Williston`s waste water treatment plant being located on Army Corps of Engineers’ property. They also spoke about the recent news of the National Weather Service closing the Williston office.

Congressman Berg says he hopes more politicians are inspired to come visit the Williston basin and see the activity for themselves. More…

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Berg sees North Dakota as good economic example for the nation

The Hill: October 31: Rep. Rick Berg (R-N.D.) thinks what worked in his state can work for the country as a whole.

North Dakota has a 3.3 percent unemployment rate, the lowest in the United States, and a nearly $1 billion budget surplus.

“We have 18,000 jobs looking for people,” Berg recently told The Hill. “If our country’s GDP grew at 7 percent, as it does in the state, most of our problems would be over in two years.

“People are feeling very good in North Dakota.” More…

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Conrad Urges Heidi Heitkamp to Enter US Senate Race 

KFYR-TV: October 31: North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad says he would like to see Heitkamp throw her hat in the ring for a chance to succeed him in Washington.

Grand Forks native, Dr. Thomas Potter, has already announced he`ll seek the Democratic nomination and Heitkamp is expected to make a decision soon.

“I`m a friend of Mr. Potter`s. I am very close to Heidi Heitkamp. I have urged Heidi to run. I think she would be an outstanding representative for the people of North Dakota,” said Conrad.

Two Republicans are running for their party`s nomination for U.S. Senate: Rep. Rick Berg and Duane Sand. More…

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GF resident announces Senate run

Williston Herald: November 1: A former University of North Dakota professor and now part-time pastor is seeking the Democratic-NPL Party nomination for the U.S. Senate.

Dr. Tom Potter of Grand Forks made the announcement on Wednesday that he’s running to fill the seat of retiring Sen. Kent Conrad.

“After thinking about this race and talking with people around the state, I have decided that Democrats winning the election in November is so important that a competitive race for the nomination can only help our cause,” Potter said.

Potter is the first Democratic-NPL Party member to announce their candidacy.

Former North Dakota Attorney General Heidi Hietkamp is also mulling a run for the nomination. “I welcome Tom Potter’s announcement. The more voices we have to shape the debate over this critical race the better for the voters of North Dakota,” Heitkamp stated in a press release.

First-term U.S. Rep. Rick Berg is the lone Republican that has thrown his hat in the ring for the Senate. More…

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Heitkamp telling Dems she’s running for Senate

POLITICO: November 2: David Catanese: Former North Dakota Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp is telling Democrats she will run for the state’s open Senate seat and is expected to make a formal announcement this month, POLITICO has learned.

Heitkamp has already enlisted Mark Mellman to conduct her polling and is in the process of assembling a campaign team, according to several Democrats who have heard details of her planning.

She and her brother — former state Sen. Joel Heitkamp — have been reaching out to fellow Democrats to alert them of her decision, say political hands in the Prairie State.

Tom Potter, a Grand Forks professor, who announced his own candidacy last week said in an interview Tuesday that Heitkamp called him in October to say she would run.

“She did call me awhile ago, sometime mid-last month, to say she planned to run,” Potter told POLITICO. “I was a little surprised. Our internal map always had Heidi running for governor.” More…

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ND Republicans pre-emptively attack Heitkamp Senate bid

The Hill: Ballot Box: Josh Lederman: November 2: Pre-emptively attacking Democrats’ best hope to hold on to the Senate seat in North Dakota, Republicans ran full-page ads Thursday to undermine former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp (D).

The North Dakota Republican Party purchased advertisements in The Bismarck Tribune and The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, knocking Heitkamp for supporting Obama in this conservative-leaning state.

The ads quote Heitkamp praising Obama, healthcare reform and other economic measures Obama has taken. Republicans also launched a website, www.HeitkampRecord.com, to document Heitkamp’s support for Obama’s policies.

“There’s a reason that her liberal friends in Washington are working to get Heidi Heitkamp into the U.S. Senate race, because national Democrats know that she will stand behind them, instead of standing up for North Dakota,” said Matt Becker, a spokesman for the North Dakota GOP. “Whether it was her outspoken support for President Obama’s massive healthcare overhaul or his big government spending agenda, Heidi Heitkamp has been with President Obama every step of the way.”

While North Dakota is seen as Republican territory, it sent only Democrats to Washington for almost two decades until 2010, when Republicans took control of one of the state’s two Senate seats and its only House seat.

Democrats in Washington and in North Dakota have been eagerly courting Heitkamp, who has wide name recognition in the state, to run for the seat. Their other top choice, state Rep. Pam Gulleson (D), opted to run for Berg’s House seat instead of trying for the Senate. More…

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ND GOP rips Heitkamp for Obama support

Devils Lake Journal: November 3: North Dakota Republicans are taking a swing at Democrat Heidi Heitkamp before she gets into the U.S. Senate race.
The former attorney general and tax commissioner is expected to make a run for the Democratic Senate endorsement.
North Dakota’s Republican Party bought full-page ads in The Forum and The Bismarck Tribune newspapers on Thursday.
The ad displays Heitkamp’s praise of President Barack Obama during the Democratic National Convention in 2008.
It also quotes from a speech she gave in Fargo last year to support the new federal health care bill. Republican Senate candidate Rick Berg wants to repeal the bill.
The ad says Heitkamp wants to go to Washington to help Obama “pass his liberal agenda.”
Heitkamp couldn’t be reached immediately for comment.

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Corps to Testify Before Congress on 2011 Missouri River Flooding

KFYR-TV: November 3: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will have to face Congress and defend their management of the Missouri River this spring.

Congressman Rick Berg and other members of the Missouri River Flood Working Group requested the hearing, which will be held Nov. 30.

Berg says the hearing will give them a better understanding of what caused this year`s flood, and what can be done to make sure it does not happen again. More…

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ND GOP Releases Heitkamp Ads 

KFYR-TV: November 5: The state Republican Party is going after former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp, even though she hasn`t yet announced whether she plans to run for the U.S. Senate. The GOP placed full page ads in some newspapers, attempting to portray Heitkamp as a liberal supporter of President Obama.

“I find it curious. I mean, they`re going on the attack of someone that`s not even an announced candidate, at this point. Like I said, it`s just very curious,” said Andy Zabel, North Dakota`s Dem-NPL executive director.

Republicans say Democrats took the first shot in the Senate campaign two weeks ago, by unfairly attacking Representative Rick Berg, over mailers he sent out. More…

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Berg Comments on Latest Unemployment Report

KFYR-TV: November 4: The latest jobs report came out this morning and the national unemployment remains at 9 percent. Congressman Rick Berg says this is proof the current approach in Washington isn`t working.

He says, in North Dakota, jobs come from small business — not big government.

Berg has been working to pass 15 bipartisan, job-creating bills, but he says Senate Democrats and President Obama continue to block them.

Berg says, to get people back to work, Washington needs to step back and let small businesses do what they do: create jobs and invest in our economy.

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DSCC Official Makes Case for a Good ’12

National Journal: November 3: DSCC Executive Director Guy Cecil told reporters at a breakfast hosted by the centrist group Third Way that Democrats believe they can pick up what are now Republican-controlled Senate seats in Massachusetts, Nevada, Indiana, and Arizona. Democrats argue they can defeat Sens. Scott Brown, R-Mass., Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Richard Lugar, R-Ind., if he survives a primary. They also believe they can win a seat opened when Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., decided not to seek reelection.

Cecil argued that Democrats can hold every seat they now have and win GOP seats by tying incumbents to the tea party and to congressional Republican opposition to Democrats’ proposals to boost the economy.

Cecil countered that Republicans will suffer as much from the deep unpopularity of Congress as Democrats, because many of their candidates–for example in Montana, North Dakota, Massachusetts, and Nevada–are incumbents House or Senate members.

Cecil and other senior Democratic aides say that former North Dakota state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat who is weighing a bid, can defeat Republican freshman Rep. Rick Berg in that race, which analysts uniformly predict Republicans will pick up following the retirement of Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad. More…

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Early ad could signal aggressive race

Bismarck Tribune: November 4: North Dakota Republicans kicked off the race for Senate this week with full-page newspaper ads against a candidate who has not yet announced her intentions, former attorney general Heidi Heitkamp, who said she is considering her plans for the 2012 election.

U.S. Rep. Rick Berg is running for the Republican spot in the Senate race.

The ad ran in Thursday’s Fargo Forum and appeared in some copies of the Bismarck Tribune but not others due to printing problems. It quotes Heitkamp praising President Barack Obama during his election campaign and ties her to pieces of his policy.

“What we’re trying to do is show strength going into this race,” said Matt Becker, communications director for the North Dakota Republican Party. “Given that it is assumed she is running, we felt we would stay ahead of the curve.”

Becker would not say how much the party spent on the ads.

Instead of strength, Democratic Executive Director Andy Zabel said the ad showed weakness by the Republicans.

“To me it says that Rick Berg wants to run a campaign based on political attacks, not on his record,” he said. “The timing says to me that they’re a little concerned.”

Zabel said that he had not talked to Heitkamp about the advertisement. She did not return a voice mail message. Berg could not be reached for comment, and spokeswoman Alee Lockman said the state party would be the appropriate ones to comment on their ad.

The election is one year from Sunday, but Springer said that a Heitkamp-Berg match-up could be more competitive than other recent races. He sees the Republicans as trying to define Heitkamp early and chip away at her reputation among voters.

“They recognize that she still has a lot of support statewide,” he said. “There’s concern that if you allow them to gain momentum, it could carry on into the general election.” More…

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Heitkamp enters U.S. Senate race

Bismarck Tribune: November 8: Heidi Heitkamp ended the speculation Tuesday, announcing she’ll seek the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate.

North Dakota Democrats have been urging Heitkamp to enter the 2012 election for months. At one time she was touted for governor, but recently she’s been mentioned as a candidate for the Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Sen. Kent Conrad.

Her likely opponent is Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., who is seeking the Republican nomination.

It was a low-key announcement. Heitkamp, 56, released a statement online early Tuesday morning.

“Today I am formally opening a campaign committee. I will be a candidate to represent North Dakota in the United States Senate. I will hold an announcement event and campaign kickoff in the near future, but I thought it was important to let the people of North Dakota know that I’m running, and that I’ll be talking with them in the weeks and months ahead about the future of North Dakota and our country.”

Heitkamp told the Tribune she has commitments for the next two weeks, but expects to begin traveling the state between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

She said she wants to provide an independent voice in Congress, which she calls “badly broken.” More…

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Do the math on the national debt

Bismarck Tribune:  LORETTA LORD NELSON Bismarck: November 10: Rep Rick Berg’s “Washington has proven it cannot live within its means” states: “Our debt has nearly tripled to $14.8 trillion and is growing by $3 million every minute. That’s more than $4 billion each and every day. Since President Barack Obama took office, the national debt has increased by $3.7 trillion.”

Do the math. How much of the $11.1 trillion before Obama took office happened on Bush-Cheney’s watch? Stop having the taxpayer pay for your political ads and get your congressman cronies to stop lining their pockets from the corporations … You allow them to keep billions in profits without paying the same percentage in taxes that you heap on the middle class.

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ND Legislators Call on Congress to Pass Balanced Budget Amendment

KFYR-TV: November 10: North Dakota state legislators are at the Capitol today in Bismarck to call on congress to pass a balanced budget amendment. The amendment would help control spending and restore fiscal stability to Washington.

Congressman Rick Berg, Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner and House Majority Leader Al Carlson are in support of the bill.

Wardner says North Dakotans know not to spend more than they take in and Washington could use some North Dakota common sense. The amendment will be voted on within a month. ………………………………………………………………

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Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley, R-N.D.

 

New ND Blue Book features state’s fossil resources

KXNet: October 31: The newest edition of the North Dakota Blue Book features the state’s fossil resources.

The book is published every two years with the help of about 60 volunteers. It includes statistical and historical information that often isn’t available elsewhere. The special feature chapter in the 2011-13 edition was written by State Paleontologist John Hoganson.

It details fossil resources and the land and sea creatures that inhabited the state millions of years ago.

Secretary of State Al Jaeger was presenting the first Blue Book to Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley on Monday in the state Capitol’s Memorial Hall. ……………………………………………………………….

Dalrymple kicks off election campaign for governor

Valley News Live: November 1: North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple kicked off his election campaign Tuesday in Fargo by pushing additional tax relief and promoting public safety in the western oil patch.

It is Dalrymple’s first run for governor. The 63-year-old Republican took over for Gov. John Hoeven last December after Hoeven was elected to the U.S. Senate. Dalrymple had been elected lieutenant governor three times.

Dalrymple says North Dakota is the envy of the nation with its low unemployment and he believes it can stay that way. He says the state needs to keep pace with the growth while still spending its money wisely.

Dalrymple also announced that Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley would be his running mate.

The governor planned additional stops Tuesday in Grand Forks, Minot and Bismarck.

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AT&T Donates $10,000 to ND Flood Relief Fund

KFYR-TV: November 10: During the height of this summer`s devastating floods North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple and the North Dakota Community Foundation set up a statewide Flood Relief Fund to aid the victims of the disaster.

Today, AT&T joined the list of organizations and individuals who have contributed to the fund presenting a $10,000 check to Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley this morning at an event to honor the foundation and its work in ongoing flood relief.

“This was a devastating event that happened this year, and it`s all of our responsibility to help out as we can. This $10,000 grant that we`re giving to the North Dakota Community Foundation is going to go toward their efforts of helping the displaced people of North Dakota who are still being impacted by the flood,” said Cheryl Riley with AT&T. More…

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2012 U.S. House Campaigns for North Dakota

GOP’s Cramer set to raise money for US House race

KXNet: November 1: Republican Kevin Cramer has set up a fundraising committee for a possible U.S. House race.

Cramer is a North Dakota Public Service Commissioner. He said on Tuesday that the move doesn’t mean he has definitely decided to run for Congress.

Cramer said he filed the fundraising paperwork with the Federal Election Commission so that he would be ready to accept contributions if he decided to run.

Cramer’s Public Service Commission colleague Brian Kalk and Fargo state Rep. Bette Grande (BET’-ee GRAN’-dee) are already seeking the Republican endorsement to run for Congress.

On the Democratic side, former state Rep. Pam Gulleson of Rutland is seeking her party’s endorsement.

The candidates are looking to succeed incumbent Republican Congressman Rick Berg. Berg is running for the U.S. Senate.

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ND state Rep. Koppelman considering US House bid

Devils Lake Journal: November 4: North Dakota state Rep. Kim Koppelman says he’s considering a bid for Congress.

The West Fargo Republican says he’s formed an exploratory committee to look into a race for the U.S. House.

A federal exploratory committee allows a candidate to raise some money without making a commitment to run.

Two Republicans are already competing for the party’s endorsement to run for the House next year.

Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk and Fargo state Rep. Bette Grande (BEHT’-ee GRAN’-dee) are running, and Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer might get into the race soon.
The 55-year-old Koppelman was first elected to the North Dakota House in 1994. He’s a businessman in West Fargo.

Incumbent Republican Congressman Rick Berg is seeking the Republican endorsement to run for the U.S. Senate.

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Cramer unveils US House race with website, video

Devils Lake Journal: November 4: Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer is the third candidate in the North Dakota Republican race for the U.S. House. He’s the first to use the Internet to make his announcement.

Cramer unveiled his campaign website Thursday night. He sent an email to supporters that pointed them to a campaign video.

Cramer says his PSC job has given him experience that translates well to the federal government.

Cramer’s PSC colleague Brian Kalk and Fargo state Rep. Bette Grande are already running. West Fargo state Rep. Kim Koppelman has set up an exploratory committee.

It is Cramer’s fourth House race. Last year, he lost to Rick Berg in a contest for the Republican endorsement.

Cramer says the Berg contest told him he needs to work harder for GOP support. More…

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Cramer making run at US House Seat

WDAY: November 4: Kevin Cramer announces his fourth run for North Dakota’s lone U.S. House Seat.

Kevin Cramer – Running for US House: “As a candidate, I’m a proven statewide winner. As an elected official I’m a proven leader. And as an experienced public service I uphold an optimistic vision for our future.”

Cramer lost the GOP nomination for the house to Rick Berg in the 2010 race. He ran twice in the 90′s losing both times to Earl Pomeroy. He’ll have to defeat fellow PSC’s Brian Kalk and Bette Grande to earn the GOP nomination. Pam Gulleson is the only democrat in the race. More…

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The EPA Is All Trick And No Treat

Bette Grande for Congress: Press: October 31: The EPA’s trick is hiding behind the ‘notion’ that it is the sole protector of our air and water; that they’re only trying to save us.  Critics of the EPA are shouted down as favoring polluted air and contaminated water.

In the words of former Obama advisor and current Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel, “never let a crisis go to waste”.  The EPA works on the related idea ‘If you can’t find a crisis – create  one’.

The bureaucrats at the EPA want us to believe that they have discovered a problem and their mission is to save us. Wrong!  Actually, the EPA starts with a goal in mind, for example…’shut down oil drilling’…and then they find a ‘problem’ or a ‘crisis’ to use as an excuse for the regulation they wanted to pass in the first place.  It’s really very clever…and it has worked long enough! More…

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Five Reasons Why North Dakota Democrats Will Lose In 2012, And One Reason Why Republicans Might Not Win

SayAnythingBlog: Rob Port: October 29: The NDGOP picked up two of the state’s three federal seats in the last cycle, but they had the chill winds of Obamacare blowing at their backs. All the NDGOP had to do in that cycle was not fumble the ball as they sprinted into the end zone. But this cycle is different, and some Republicans are feeling spooked. I hear talk among Republicans about how some of the candidates are weak (most notably Rep. Rick Berg), and how Democrats could make up ground with a strong candidate like Heidi Heitkamp.

Are these worries warranted? Republicans shouldn’t be overconfident, but North Dakota Democrats have five things working against them that will be their undoing in 2012.

Here they are, from least important to most important.

5) Their candidates really aren’t that good. One thing holding Demcorats back in a big way is a paucity of talented, well-known, credible candidates on their bench. As of right now, former state legislator and Dorgan staffer Pam Gulleson is the House candidate. State Senator Ryan Taylor is running for governor. People keep telling me that Heidi Heitkamp is running for the Senate. But neither Gulleson nor Taylor have ever won a state-wide contest before, and both will likely try to win by running to the left of their opponents. That’s not likely to be a recipe for success. Heitkamp has won a statewide election, but that was back in the 1990′s. Since then she’s moved far to the left, to the point of headlining SEIU rallies for Obamacare, and has had some troubling revelations about quid pro quo during her time as AG come to light. Heitkamp, specifically, is the “great white hope” of Democrats in the state, but from my perspective she’s looking a little dingy. More…

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So You Want to Be a Political Handicapper, Part II

Roll Call: November 1: Pam Gulleson (North Dakota’s at-large). A former state legislator who worked for then-Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Gulleson looked at the Senate and House races before opting to run for the open at-large district.

Like other Democrats, she stresses the “independent” nature of voters in her state, and she argues that voters are “unhappy with partisanship.” Of course, all of the Democratic candidates I interviewed seem to think that Congressional Republicans are responsible for the partisan gridlock on Capitol Hill, a view that not all voters may share.

Gulleson clearly understands politics and elections. She has plenty of politics under her belt, so she isn’t likely to get flustered or make a big mistake during a campaign. But North Dakota won’t be favorable territory for President Barack Obama, so she’ll need to get the votes of many who vote Republican for president. The GOP field in the House race isn’t close to being set, so the contest is wide open.

Like other Democrats, Gulleson may be underestimating the problems caused by running with an unpopular president during a poor economy. Just ask former Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) about it. More…

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Kevin Cramer Announces US House Race Via The Internet

SayAnythingBlog: Rob Port: November 3: What I like about this is that Cramer eschews, directly, the habit other North Dakota candidates have of doing a whirlwind tour of several cities in the state, with 30 minute whistle stops in each city, and instead says he wants to tell everyone at once via the internet.

It’s a refreshing change, and perhaps an indication that Cramer’s campaign will be a bit more modern (and internet-savvy) than what we’ve seen from other ND candidates.

He also doesn’t give too much credit for North Dakota’s success to the government, instead crediting the oil boom and other factors, though he does take a bit of credit for growth in the tourism industry under his tenure as tourism director under former Governor Ed Schafer.

But what I liked best was when Cramer talked about his time as a regulator. How often do you hear someone in charge of regulating industry talk about good outcomes for businesses and consumers? We all agree that some level of government regulation is necessary, but Cramer is the best sort of regulator. One who uses his power reluctantly, and in a way that’s sensitive to outcomes for citizens and businesses.

Cramer will be another strong addition to an increasingly strong field of GOP House candidates. More…

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Kim Koppelman Getting Into North Dakota House Race

SayAnythingBlog: Rob Port: November 3: So, to sum up, Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk and state Rep. Bette Grande are in the race. Koppelman has an exploratory committee, which pretty much means he’s in, and Public Service Commission President Kevin Cramer is likely to get in as well.

All of which adds up to what is likely to be one of the most robust nomination races the state has seen in a generation, if not ever. Which speaks volumes, doesn’t it?

Clearly Republicans see a big opportunity in the House race, and don’t see the only Democrat currently in the race (former state legislator and Byron Dorgan staffer Pam Gulleson) as much of an obstacle. More…

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Sorum, Cramer And Sand Win Straw Poll In Fargo

SayAnythingBlog: November 5: The North Dakota Policy Council’s Free Market Forum just finished up in Fargo. It was a great event (I had a great time as MC and met a lot of you readers) with about 750 people or so inattendance according to my not-so-official count (I think someone mentioned to me that they sold over 700 tickets so that would make sense).

They also had a straw poll at the event with some interesting results:

SENATE

Berg: 42%
Sand: 43%
Heitkamp: 8%
Other: 7%

HOUSE

Bette Grande: 24%
Kevin Cramer: 31%
Brian Kalk: 28%
Eric Olson: 11%
Pam Gulleson: 2%
Other 4%

GOVERNOR

Jack Dalrymple: 42%
Paul Sorum: 49%
Ryan Taylor: 4%
Other: 5%

Obviously, this was a poll of the conservative base in the state, not necessarily a representative sample of North Dakota voters overall. But seeing Sand beat Berg, and Sorum beat Dalrymple, will raise a few eyebrows.

Straw polls like this should always be taken with a handful of salt, but expect both to make strong showings at the convention. More…

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Pam Gulleson’s First TV Ad

North Decoder: November 8: Pam Gulleson, a candidate for North Dakota’s open seat in the United States Congress, has a clean new video on her brand new YouTube page.  Check it out. Watch…

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Does Heidi Heitkamp Think Republicans Are Fighting A War On Women?

SayAnythingBlog: Rob Port: November 10: From the email (forwarded to me by a reader):

I have great news about another amazing Democratic woman who just announced she’s running for the U.S. Senate: Heidi Heitkamp, the former attorney general of North Dakota, who launched her campaign this morning for an open seat being vacated by the retirement of my friend and colleague Kent Conrad.

When I first ran for the U.S. Senate in 1992, it was a lonely place for women. Now, 20 years later, please help me send the most women to the U.S. Senate in history.

The best way to stop the GOP’s all-out war on women and families is to WINWITHWOMEN2012!

You can see this same message expressed on WinWithWomen2012.com where Heitkamp’s image, and the “war on women” message both figure prominently.

It seems to me that this is exactly the sort of extreme, far-left stuff that Heitkamp is trying to run away from with all her “I’m independent” stuff. In fact, it looks like Heidi Heitkamp has already been caught in the first lie of the election cycle.

She claims, to North Dakotans, that she’s independent even as she fund raises with Barabara Boxer and her far-left message.

Maybe some enterprising reporter in North Dakota should ask Heitkamp if she really believes that Republicans are fighting a “war on women.” More…

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