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John Hoeven

Hoeven wants U.S. Senate after decade as N.D. governor

John Hoeven 36%

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BISMARCK — North Dakota’s Democratic U.S. Senate candidate films some of his political advertising himself on his backyard deck, using a cheap tripod and a $150 video camera, where his irreverent “grillside chats” are peppered with sounds from chirping birds and the occasional lawnmower.

Although Democrat Tracy Potter’s campaign outdoes Republican rival John Hoeven’s in humor and quirkiness, it’s unlikely to save Potter from a November thumping, when Hoeven — who has been North Dakota’s governor for a decade — is likely to become the state’s first GOP senator in 24 years.

“It hasn’t been perfect, which it needed to be,” Potter said of his campaign. “Even perfect, it might have still been impossible.”

Hoeven, who got 74 percent of the vote in winning re-election two years ago, raised more than $3.1 million for his campaign through September, his most recent Federal Election Commission filings show. Potter has raised about $109,000.

Neither man has received much support from Democratic or Republican campaign committees, and outside activist groups have expressed little interest — sure signs of Potter’s failure to mount a significant challenge. Potter quips that he’s gotten $7,000 in donations through ActBlue, a website that funnels money to Democratic candidates, when he’d budgeted for $600,000.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. For more than a year, political activists in North Dakota and elsewhere were abuzz with the possibility that Hoeven would take on incumbent Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan, an electoral powerhouse who’d been on North Dakota’s statewide ballot continuously since he ran for state tax commissioner in 1972.

However, the 68-year-old Dorgan shocked Democrats and Republicans alike when he announced last January that he would not seek his fourth Senate term. A week later, Hoeven joined the race — and for many political observers and activists, the suspense was over.

“There was a total deflation,” said Mark Jendrysik, chairman of the University of North Dakota’s political science department. “I had been preparing myself to be on the phone for endless hours with the national media.”

North Dakota’s Senate campaign is being waged against a backdrop much different from elsewhere in the country.

Western North Dakota’s oil patch is booming, drawing new workers to the region and sending a cascade of tax revenues into the state’s treasury, which is expected to have a $1 billion surplus in June. North Dakota’s unemployment rate has stayed below 4 percent, less than half the national jobless rate.

Last year, North Dakota lawmakers cut income taxes for individuals and corporations, provided subsidies for local property tax reductions and increased spending by 34 percent over two years. Hoeven has played up the state’s economic health in his campaign advertising, of which he has bought plenty despite his overwhelming advantage in name recognition.

He has spent more than $2 million, according to his most recent FEC filing, most of which has been used for television ads touting Hoeven’s support for reining in federal spending, cutting taxes, creating jobs and supporting the military.

“I’m approaching this campaign the same way I have previous campaigns,” Hoeven said. “We r. n our campaign the way we think it should be run.”



By Dale Wetzel



October 25 2010

Read full article: www.jamestownsun.com


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