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Henry C. Jackson, Associated Press, Published July 12 2012

Heitkamp raises nearly $1 million in second quarter

WASHINGTON — The campaign of U.S. Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp says the North Dakota Democrat raised nearly $1 million in the second quarter of 2012.

Heitkamp, a former attorney general and one-time gubernatorial candidate, is running against Republican Congressman Rick Berg for the seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad. According to her campaign, Heitkamp took in $977,000 in the second quarter, a tally that will likely keep her competitive in a closely watched race.

Berg has not yet released his second quarter fundraising numbers.

Polls have shown that Heitkamp and Berg are in a tight race to replace Conrad, who is stepping down after 26 years in the Senate. Republicans had initially thought the seat would be an easy pickup, but Heitkamp has emerged as one of Democrats' strongest recruits of the 2012 cycle.

The race is important in the larger fight for control of the U.S. Senate. Republicans need to net four seats this year to take control of the chamber. With Conrad's retirement, North Dakota is considered one of Senate Republicans' top targets, though Heitkamp is working hard to keep the seat in Democratic hands.

Both parties now acknowledge that the race is competitive. Democrats and Republicans have run television ads in North Dakota, and Berg and Heitkamp have increased their campaign activity.

Heitkamp ran unopposed during the state's primary elections last month. Berg, a freshman congressman, defeated Bismarck businessman Duane Sand to win the GOP nomination.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.