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Sen. Kent Conrad to Retire -- Another Republican Opportunity for 2012?

4 years ago
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Sen. Kent Conrad, who has represented North Dakota for some three decades, plans to retire next year, giving Republicans a golden opportunity for a pickup in the conservative-leaning state.

Conrad, a moderate in his fifth term, is a leading spokesman on budget and economic issues for the Senate majority. He is chairman of the budget panel and a senior member of the powerful Finance Committee.

With former Sen. Byron Dorgan and former Rep. Earl Pomeroy, Conrad gave the rural prairie state influence in Congress well beyond what one would expect based on its small population. Dorgan retired last year and was replaced by Republican Sen. John Hoeven, while Pomeroy was defeated by Republican Rick Berg.

Kent Conrad"There are serious challenges facing our state and nation, like a $14 trillion debt and America's dependence on foreign oil," Conrad said in a letter to constituents and reported by the Washington Post. "It is more important that I spend my time and energy trying to solve these problems than to be distracted by a campaign for reelection."

President Obama said he was sad to see the 62-year-old Conrad go. During his time in the Senate, Conrad demonstrated "an unmatched dedication to putting our country on a sound fiscal path and a commmitment to meeting our nation's energy challenges," the president said in a statement.

The GOP jumped on the news. "In the wake of Sen. Hoeven's overwhelming victory last year, Senate Republicans fully expected North Dakota to be a major battleground in 2012, but Sen. Conrad's retirement dramatically reshapes this race in the Republican favor," said Brian Walsh, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

In a statement from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Chairman Patty Murray said, "The people of North Dakota had a stalwart fighter in Kent Conrad and the entire caucus will miss him. There are a number of potential Democratic candidates who could make this race competitive while we expect to see a contentious primary battle on the Republican side. North Dakotans have a long history of electing moderate Democrats to the Senate, and we believe they will have an opportunity to keep up that tradition" in 2012. Conrad won with 69 percent of the vote in his 2006 race.

Pomeroy, who served nine terms in the House, is among the Democrats being mentioned as a possible contender for Conrad's seat. North Dakota Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk is the first Republican out of the gate, having already formed a Senate "exploratory" committee, the Post said.

Folo Tom Diemer on Twitter http://twitter.com/tomdiemer
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45 Comments

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lppnctt

The PC crowd will probably jump all over the word "battleground." Let's appease them by using the phrase "spirited contest" to describe the upcoming Senatorial battle for Conrad's seat. But then, you need to concern yourself with the Mayan ball game, where the contest loser was sacrificed.

January 19 2011 at 8:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
wadesidem

We need a true conservative Tea party candidate to run for Kent Conrad's seat.

January 18 2011 at 6:32 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
davec21gw

I'm sure Sen Conrad is a good man but I found the President's comment, "an unmatched dedication to putting our country on a sound fiscal path and a commmitment to meeting our nation's energy challenges" to be faint praise. If that has been the Senator's primary goal I think he has failed miserably because we are neither on a sound fiscal path and we are certainly not meeting our energy challenges.

January 18 2011 at 4:15 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
jejmjr67

No government elected official should remain in the same position for that long. Term limits need to be enacted.

January 18 2011 at 2:57 PM Report abuse +14 rate up rate down Reply
wongtpa

Conrad knows he has no chance and is avoiding an embarassing defeat!

January 18 2011 at 2:45 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
babyandizzy

The senator knows he can't win. Smart move--get out while the getting out's good. Chalk up one more Republican win (or even a Tea Party victory?). Gotta be an improvement.

January 18 2011 at 2:40 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
cptberm55

Term limits -30 years and he has not done anything now he wants to retire and help from the outside..i see nothing happening with these lifetime politicians they are the ones that got US in this fix...

January 18 2011 at 2:32 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
Ed Baggett

Politics contribute nothing for the country but strife. I wish both parties would
stop the trash talk & concentrate of the bebt reduction.....both parties !

January 18 2011 at 2:30 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Ed Baggett's comment
Tracy

You are so right Mr. Baggett! and with the New Republican's in office, I Pray Our Country can Make a come back and Fast!..God Bless!

January 18 2011 at 9:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Fred

30 years in office,,,do the words BAIL OUT before they check the books ring a bell????

January 18 2011 at 2:29 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
dosbo51181

Twenty years is far too long for anyone to be an elected Senator. This fellow will walk away with a retirement set up that will put the UAW to shame.

January 18 2011 at 2:24 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

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