North Dakota Senate: Conrad Will Retire

Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) “plans to announce his retirement today, according to two informed Democratic sources, creating a potentially prime pickup opportunity for Republicans in a GOP-leaning state,” the Washington Post reports.

Conrad, who currently chairs the Senate Budget Committee, has been in office since 1986 and risen to become one of the most influential — and intellectual — policy makers operating in the nation’s capital.

Hotline On Call looks at potential candidates for this seat:

In 2010, Republican[s] picked up both North Dakota’s other Senate seat and the state’s lone House seat. Already, Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk has announced he will run for the seat. Other potential Republican contenders include Lt. Gov. Jack Dalrymple, who is also considering a run for governor, and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.

North Dakota does, however, have a history of electing Democratic senators and there is something of a bench in the state — albeit a short one. Former Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D), who lost last year, could force a competitive race, as could former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp.

Here’s an excerpt from Senator Conrad’s official statement:

"After months of consideration, I have decided not to seek reelection in 2012. There are serious challenges facing our State and nation, like a $14 trillion debt and America’s dependence on foreign oil.  It is more important I spend my time and energy trying to solve these problems than to be distracted by a campaign for reelection.”

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