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John Lamb, Published February 10 2010

Cass County Republicans meet to pick delegates

The trail to Washington, D.C., came through Fargo on Tuesday for Republicans seeking congressional nominations.

Republicans in Cass County Districts 11, 13, 21, 22, 27, 41, 44, 45 and 46 met Tuesday night at Carl Ben Eielson Middle School in Fargo to select delegates for next month’s state Republican convention.

The event featured speeches by those seeking the party nominations for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by retiring Democrat Byron Dorgan and North Dakota’s sole seat in the U.S. House, now held by Democrat Earl Pomeroy.

An estimated 300 people attended, said Sen. Joe Miller of Pembina, who helped organize the event.

“It’s a great turnout, which goes to show that North Dakota is excited across the board to get decent representation in Washington,” said Adam Jones, executive director of the North Dakota Republican Party.

The loudest support came for Gov. John Hoeven, who is seeking Dorgan’s Senate seat. He drew a standing ovation after being the last candidate to speak.

Paul Sorum, a Fargo architect and business consultant, is also seeking the party nomination and spoke.

In his speech, Kevin Cramer, a North Dakota Public Service commissioner who is seeking the House nomination, criticized Pomeroy for a lack of town hall meetings during last summer’s congressional break. Cramer vowed he would hold 100 such meetings in his first year if elected.

Rick Berg, a former state representative from Fargo who is also seeking the GOP nomination to run against Pomeroy, drew applause when he said, “Washington needs to be more like North Dakota” in how it does business.

Earlier in the day, Berg released a statement criticizing Pomeroy and his support of “massive tax increases.”

“The only responsible, long-term way to cut the deficit is to freeze spending, cut where we can and get our economy going with targeted tax credits for energy development, R&D and capital/infrastructure investments,” Berg said in the release.

Meredith Pickett, communications director for the North Dakota Democratic-NPL said Berg’s comments lacked specifics.

“Congressman Pomeroy has always been a strong advocate for working families,” she said. “Just last year he voted to cut taxes for 95 percent of American families and reduced the tax burden on 300,000 North Dakotans. Congressman Pomeroy also voted last year to provide tax rebates for senior citizens, cut taxes on working families’ retirement savings and child care expenses, and reduce the tax liability of America’s small businesses.”

When asked at the endorsement meeting for specifics, Berg said he wants to see health care and cap and trade taken off the table, and would address jobs first and the deficit second.

Also in the race for the House seat are Paul Schaffner of Bismarck, J.D. Donaghe of Kenmare and DuWayne Hendrickson of Minot. None attended Tuesday’s event.

The Republican nominees will be chosen at the state convention March 19-21 in Grand Forks.

Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533