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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the full interview: