The Campaign Spot

Kent Conrad to Retire; GOP to Have Advantage in 2012

With news that North Dakota Democrat senator Kent Conrad is retiring, his one announced potential challenger, Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk, will have company. (Kalk’s official biography can be found here.) The state will probably see a crowded GOP primary; a Republican who wins this seat will likely have the wind at his back for the remainder of his career.

North Dakota Democrats had a hard time mounting much of a serious challenge to John Hoeven in 2010; their candidate, Tracy Potter, carried only 22 percent. We’ll see if their bench can generate a stronger candidate in 2012.

While North Dakota had three Democrats representing it in Congress for many years, the state leans heavily GOP otherwise; last year, the GOP won the Senate race, the lone House race, secretary of state, attorney general, agriculture commissioner, public service commissioner, and tax commissioner, all by nearly 2-to-1 margins.

Of course, the presidential race is likely to work against the Democrat in 2012. While Obama carried a respectable 45 percent in 2008, he’s not likely to match that total as an established incumbent.


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