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Published February 21 2012

Rep. Rick Berg launches ad in advance of GOP convention

FARGO – Republican Rep. Rick Berg is making his campaign debut on statewide airwaves today to spread the message of his U.S. Senate bid.

Berg’s campaign released its first TV ad exclusively to The Forum on Tuesday evening.

The 30-second bit offers a light-hearted look at Berg with his mother, Francie, who still lives in Berg’s hometown of Hettinger in the southwest part of North Dakota.

Bismarck businessman Duane Sand, who’s challenging Berg for the GOP nomination in the Senate race, said he found it notably coincidental that Berg’s ad will debut less than a week after Sand aired his first ad.

In his commercial, Sand advocates for the Keystone XL pipeline as a means to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil.

Berg’s campaign declined to reveal how much is being spent on the ad, but Sand said he heard Berg shelled out $100,000 to have it air statewide.

“Clearly, he’s expending a great deal of resources very early in the process,” Sand said. “The question is: Why is he doing that, especially if he thinks he’s going to waltz through the convention?”

North Dakota Republicans will gather March 30 through April 1 to endorse candidates for state and federal office.

While it’s not common practice in North Dakota, some major GOP candidates have launched advertising campaigns prior to the state convention in order to get their messages out.

Ed Shafer did it in the infancy of his first gubernatorial bid in 1992, Sen. John Hoeven did it before his first governor’s race in 2000, and Berg himself did it two years ago when he faced a contested bid for the party’s endorsement in the U.S. House race he later won.

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