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Blog Home Page --> House -- North Dakota

NRCC Launches TV Ad In Pomeroy's District

The National Republican Congressional Committee is targeting North Dakota Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D) with a 30-second TV ad airing in his state. The ad aims to put political pressure on Pomeroy to not support a Democrat-written health care bill that could come up for a vote in the next several weeks.

Pomeroy briefly considered running for the state's vacant Senate seat this year, but opted for re-election instead.

"Seventeen years in Washington have changed Pomeroy," the announcer states. "Now he's voting 97 percent with Nancy Pelosi."

Sudden Chaos For Democrats In North Dakota

The sudden retirement announcement Tuesday by North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan (D) set off a chain of events that has brought a rage of intrigue and GOP confidence in a state whose congressional delegation is currently dominated by Democrats.

Democratic Rep. Earl Pomeroy, the state's lone congressman, considered running in Dorgan's place but quickly announced Wednesday he would instead seek re-election. Meanwhile, a potential Republican challenger to Pomeroy has said he is now rethinking his earlier decision not to run. As for Dorgan's seat, popular Republican Gov. John Hoeven is expected to soon announce he is running.

At a press conference in Bismarck Wednesday, Pomeroy said he opted to seek re-election because he did not want the state saddled with two freshmen in Congress.

"We would have gone from a position where we hold powerful chairmanships by each of our Senators and senior status on Ways and Means Committee to a position where we would have a brand-spanking-new House member and a brand-spanking-new Senator," said Pomeroy.

However, many felt Pomeroy had the best chance to defeat Hoeven and keep Dorgan's seat in Democratic hands. Plus, his re-election to the House is no foregone conclusion, according to Eric Raile, a political scientist at North Dakota State University.

"I think that Pomeroy has enough to worry about with his House seat," Raile said when asked what Pomeroy's chances would have been against Hoeven. "There is a lot of talk in the state about dissatisfaction with healthcare reform and other Democratic-led initiatives. This could be trouble for Pomeroy in the upcoming election."

First elected in 1992, Pomeroy has won his last three elections with at least 60 percent of the vote, but in 2002 -- a strong year nationally for Republicans -- he won with just 52 percent. Running statewide, Pomeroy will again need to overcome the Republican leanings of the state and the anti-incumbent mood hanging over the 2010 midterms.

After turning down national party entreaties last year, Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer -- who challenged Pomeroy in 1996 and 1998 -- has now told state party operatives that he will make his decision on running in "the next day or so." Also, in an interview with Politico, Cramer said it was Dorgan's retirement announcement that caused him to rethink his decision.

Other potential Republican challengers to Pomeroy include Tax Commissioner Cory Fong and Rick Clayburgh, the former tax commissioner and current executive with the North Dakota Bankers Association.

"Pomeroy stands to face his toughest election in his political career, and we're confident it will be his last year in office," said Adam Jones, executive director of the North Dakota Republican Party.

While Democrats now hold all three of the state's slots in Congress, North Dakota may indeed find itself a year from now with two freshmen in Washington -- despite Pomeroy's desire to keep that from happening.

With Pomeroy out of the running for Senate, state and national Democrats have been feeling out MSNBC talk show host Ed Schultz, who is a former Fargo radio show host, and former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp, who lost to Hoeven in the 2000 governor's race. Neither has yet to say whether they are interested.

"Pomeroy's House seat is not necessarily safe," said Raile. And as for the Dorgan's Senate seat, "Governor Hoeven is extremely popular in North Dakota. The Democrats are facing a difficult situation here. They likely need to find a popular and recognizable figure to be competitive."

Pomeroy Will Not Run For Senate

North Dakota Rep. Earl Pomeroy will not run for Senate, a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee source tells RealClearPolitics.

Pomeroy, the state's lone congressman, had been considered Democrats' strongest candidate to replace Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), who announced his retirement yesterday. The long-held Democratic Senate seat now appears likely to flip parties, should Gov. John Hoeven (R) jump in the race as expected.

"I think Hoeven is the prohibitive favorite against anyone but Pomeroy," said Mark Jendrysik, a political scientist at the University of North Dakota. "Since I don't think Earl will run for Senate, it looks like the seat is John's for the taking."

Hoeven, governor since 2000, is extremely popular in the state. A recent poll found him with an 87 percent job approval rating. Pomeroy was first elected to Congress in 1992 and was won re-election with more than 60 percent of the vote in the last three elections.

MSNBC host Ed Schultz said this morning that the state Democratic Party chair contacted him about running, though he remains undecided.

Multiple messages left with Pomeroy's spokesperson were not returned.