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Published May 18 2011

Berg: Senate Democrats are barrier to change

FARGO – On the heels of his official announcement, Republican Rep. Rick Berg elaborated Tuesday on why he wants North Dakota voters to send him to the U.S. Senate in 2012.

Berg – who’s been in Congress less than five months – declared his candidacy in the race Monday through an online video to supporters.

He’ll compete with Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk for the party’s endorsement next spring.

Berg’s successful campaign for the U.S. House last year was anchored on a platform of transforming Washington and enacting “common sense” policies.

His bid for Senate rests on an identical premise. Berg blamed partisan politics for the lack of change in Washington.

“The Democrat majority in the Senate is blocking real reforms,” Berg said Tuesday in Fargo at his first campaign stop on a statewide tour this week. “Our nation’s future depends on us crafting policies that will rein in government and create jobs. To do this, we have to change the mindset of the U.S. Senate.”

Echoing his House campaign, Berg emphasized job creation, energy growth and reduced government spending.

He again called for the repeal of “Obamacare” and chided Senate leadership for its “unwillingness to meet these challenges.”

In January, House Republicans passed legislation that would repeal the controversial health care reform law President Barack Obama signed last year.

“The Senate still refuses to take a vote on repealing the health care bill. The Democrat majority in the Senate is the barrier,” Berg said.

Republicans need to win at least four additional Senate seats in the 2012 election in order to hold the majority of that chamber.

North Dakota Democrats, in a release, questioned Berg’s decision to seek the Senate, arguing he’s “the last person who deserves a promotion.”

When asked Tuesday for examples of how he’s working to address the nation’s problems, Berg spoke only in pluralities – referring to legislation passed by the Republican majority, including Berg.

“We’ve passed several bills, both spending reduction and government reduction,” Berg said. “They’ve gone to the Senate and they’re just sitting there. That’s the challenge.

“The bigger issue, of course … we’ve got to get our country back on track and to do this; the culture in D.C. needs to change,” he added.

Berg declined to comment on the differences between himself and the only other declared candidate, the Republican Kalk.

“Our focus is really on getting this message out,” he said. “Our focus is building this team, and our focus is getting America back on track.”

Former congressional candidate Duane Sand said Tuesday he would no longer seek to challenge Berg and Kalk for the GOP nomination in the Senate race.

Instead, Sand said he’s considering the House race, which looks to draw multiple candidates.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541