Former Congressman Rick Berg Not Ruling Out 2018 Campaign

Rick Berg celebrates as he and his family are followed by supporters during a rally after his speech to delegates of the North Dakota state GOP convention Saturday at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks. Eric Hylden / Forum Communications Co.

In 2010 Rick Berg, a long time Republican state lawmaker from Fargo, ran for Congress and defeated 10-term incumbent Earl Pomeroy ending a decades-long stranglehold Democrats had on North Dakota’s federal delegation.

But in 2012 Berg opted to leave his House seat behind and run for the Senate seat which was being vacated at that time by incumbent Democrat Kent Conrad.

Berg’s opponent was current Senator Heidi Heitkamp who won that race after very ugly, very bitter campaign.

Since then Berg has been pretty quiet in North Dakota politics. He’s popped up now and then. He hosted a hospitality room at the 2014 NDGOP convention in Minot and set so many chins wagging that he has to post a sign reading “I’m not running for anything” outside it.

But 2018 may be the cycle in which Berg attempts a comeback.

“I was really fired up after the election after Trump was elected,” he said.

I’d been hearing for some time that Berg had been initiating conversations about a campaign this cycle, so I called him about it yesterday.

“Never say never,” he told me when I asked him if he was going to jump into a race, adding that “campaigning is tough stuff.”

Berg wasn’t clear on what he’d run for if he launched a campaign, and I suppose this early in the cycle that makes sense. There are a lot of moving parts for Republicans. Will incumbent Congressman Kevin Cramer challenge Heitkamp? That would leave an open House race for Republicans like Berg. But maybe Cramer opts to stay in the House (the buzz lately is that’s more likely than not).

Does Berg want a re-match with Heitkamp? There are other candidates to consider as well. State Senator Tom Campbell (R-Grafton) has been saying he’ll run for some office – any office! – for like four years now.

State Rep. Rick Becker (R-Bismarck), who made a strong if ultimately unsuccessful showing in last year’s gubernatorial primary, has also made noises about a Senate run. Sources in D.C. tell me he’s been out there sizing up support. In-state sources tell me he’ll probably make a decision in the coming weeks.

As for Berg? He told me Trump’s election caught his interest.

“I was really fired up after the election after Trump was elected,” he said.

Berg said that while he was in Washington D.C. he worked hard to try and end some of the dysfunction out there. “It’s disheartening to see we haven’t fixed it yet,” he said.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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