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Published May 14, 2011, 10:54 AM

Sources: ND Rep. Berg to announce for US Senate

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Rick Berg, a North Dakota Republican who took office less than five months ago, plans to begin a campaign for the U.S. Senate next week, two GOP officials said Friday.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Rick Berg, a North Dakota Republican who took office less than five months ago, plans to begin a campaign for the U.S. Senate next week, two GOP officials said Friday.

The officials confirmed to The Associated Press that Berg is planning to become the second declared candidate among North Dakota Republicans for the seat. They said they had firsthand knowledge of Berg's plans but were not authorized to discuss them.

A Berg spokeswoman, Alee Lockman, said the freshman incumbent intends to release a video Monday night announcing his decision, followed by a three-day, 10-city tour of speaking appearances. She declined comment on whether Berg had decided to run.

The tour is to begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday in Fargo, which Berg represented in the North Dakota House before running for Congress, and ends Thursday in Hettinger, the southwestern North Dakota community where he grew up.

Republican Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk has also declared his candidacy for the Senate seat, which is being left open by the departure of incumbent Democrat Kent Conrad. Conrad, who is chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, was first elected to the Senate in 1986.

North Dakota Democrats do not have a declared Senate candidate. The 25 Democrats in the North Dakota House recently signed a letter asking Pam Gulleson, a former Democratic state representative and assistant House minority floor leader, to run.

Gulleson said she is considering the race. She worked as a top aide to former U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., before Dorgan declined to seek re-election last year.

Mark Schneider, the North Dakota Democratic chairman, said in a statement Friday that Berg "has done nothing positive for North Dakotans" since he defeated incumbent Democrat Earl Pomeroy for the state's lone House seat.

Berg has voted to cut back Medicare prescription drug benefits for seniors and the Medicaid health insurance program for low-income North Dakotans, Schneider said.

"Are these the North Dakota values that we require of our elected leaders?" Schneider asked.

North Dakota Republicans will endorse their preferred Senate candidate at the state party's convention in Bismarck next year. The three-day convention begins March 30 at the Bismarck Civic Center.

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