ND-Sen: Dorgan To Retire; SSP Moves to Lean R

I don’t think anybody saw this coming — North Dakota’s long-time Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan is planning to retire. His statement today reads in part:

Although I still have a passion for public service and enjoy my work in the Senate, I have other interests and I have other things I would like to pursue outside of public life.  I have written two books and have an invitation from a publisher to write two more books.  I would like to do some teaching and would also like to work on energy policy in the private sector.

A recent Rasmussen poll had shown Dorgan losing by double-digits to Republican Governor John Hoeven. Hoeven, however, hadn’t taken any steps to get into the race; it’s unclear whether Dorgan had advance notice of Hoeven starting to move toward entering the race and decided to get out of the way, or the 67-year-old Dorgan, as implied in his statement, legitimately had had enough and was ready to try something other than a fourth term. At any rate, it seems much likelier now that Hoeven gets into the race.

On the Dem side, long-time at large Rep. Earl Pomeroy seems like a possible candidate to try for a promotion. (At 58, he’s still within Senate range.) However, the Democratic bench here seems to pretty much begin and end with Pomeroy, and he’d still start at a deep disadvantage against Hoeven, and maybe a lesser disadvantage against another statewide Republican official. (Pomeroy running would also expose us to the likely loss of ND-AL.) With the lack of possibilities beyond Pomeroy, we’re moving this race to Lean Republican, with a likelihood that it may move further in the Republicans’ favor as things unfold.

RaceTracker: ND-Sen

155 thoughts on “ND-Sen: Dorgan To Retire; SSP Moves to Lean R”

  1. was really unexpected. I expected since Wall Street melted down in 2008, Dorgan would lead the charge in cracking down in Wall Street. He did correctly foresee the damage repealing Glass-Stegal would do to the country.

  2. With this bad news its vital that Hodes, Carnahan, Specter, Dodd, Fisher/Brunner, Reid, Lincoln, and possibly Biden if he gets into the race either get re-elected or elected. We need at least 60 seats in order to pass anything come 2010 for the GOP will fillibuster any bill proposed by the dems. I believe its come to the point where if the Dems would try n pass a bill calling the GOP the greatest political party in the world then the gopers would still filibuster it bc a dem proposed it. If we want Obama to achieve anything past 2010 then we need thoose 60 possibly 61 seats since we just lost Dorgan’s seat today in my books.    

  3. I am really surprised at this announcement. Dorgan was a great rural Democrat whose populist voice will be sorely missed in the Senate.

    If Hoeven gets in the race it’s hard to see how the DSCC doesn’t write this race off; that’s barring Pomeroy getting in the race, which would be a huge gamble.

  4. 2010 is going to brutal.  I forsee retirements like this piling up and the losses of some unexpected seats.  Things are going to get ugly REALLY fast.

  5. I was doing a little looking-up on Hoeven, just to familiarize myself with the guy who very well could be North Dakota’s next senator, and realized something worth pondering:  could he fall victim to a tea party-style challenge?  I know it is never a good idea to cite Wikipedia, but using that as my first introduction to all things Hoeven, I see he’s described as having:

    walked a conservative line as a politician on some issues and a moderate one on others including increasing education funding, ethics reform, compensation for teachers, as well as increased funding on infrastructure.


    Then the paragraph goes on to list a bunch of mainline conservative positions, though nothing really terribly wingnutty.  Of course, what I refer to is the wording of whomever wrote that on the page.

    I can’t help but wonder if, considering the tea party challenges to other “establishment” Republicans across the country, if we might see one of those if Hoeven decides to run.  And, if there was a legitimate tea party challenge, might that give any possible Dem an opening?

  6. I’m guessing he got word Hoeven was running and didn’t want the bother. If so Pomeroy shouldn’t either. Chris Dodd take notice. NOW.

  7. So everyone is reporting that other than Pomeroy there’s not much of a bench. Okay, fine. And sure this probably should now be Lean-R. That said, there have to be some names out there. Who should we keep an eye on? The only name that leaps to my mind is Jasper Schneider who barely lost a race for Insurance Commissioner in ’08. And conveniently he’s now 30, so he’s eligible. But looking more broadly – anyone know other names?

  8. Assuming Hoeven gets in, this is easily a Safe R. Althrough that may not be guranteed: North Dakota is one of the states that have no term limits and Hoeven may like being govenor of a nice small state than be 1 of 100 in nasty Washington D.C. Dorgan’s retirment does make is much more likely that Hoeven will pull the trigger.

    If Hoeven doesn’t run, then it Poleroy gets in then it would probably be a toss-up as he is also a statewide offical and personally popular. Hopefully he isn’t stupid enough to go against Hoeven but he could definitly toe to toe with any of the other GOP statewide elected officals who would be jumping in if Hoeven declines, and who knows maybe Pomeroy could benefit from a nasty GOP primary.

    In my opinion it would only be Lean R if both Hoeven and Pomeroy refused to run, which would likely turn more GOP eventually because of the weak Dem bench in the state sans Pomeroy.

  9. Byron Dorgan was the most consistent voice in the United States Senate on fighting for the working person, whether it be on trade policy, affordable drugs, pensions, cracking down on employers for hiring illegal immigrants and offering them slave wages.  Dorgan was one of the few Senators who actually stood up against these evil war profiteers like Erik Prince, we all should be calling Dorgan’s office and begging him to reconsider, not just for our party, but the country,

  10. This news clearly favors the GOP because the GOP has other strong candidates besides Hoeven. The Democrats can run At Large Congressman Earl Pomeroy, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Wayne Sanstead, and State Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson and make a race out of this, though.

  11. You can’t even get anything through with sixty votes anyway.  I always vote the person over the party and won’t change that.  People’s accomplishments should not be eliminated by false rumors and political hacks.

  12. A name from the slightly more distant past

    She was Attorney General for 8 years (1993-2001), before that she was Tax Commissioner (huge stepping stone in ND). She ran for Governor against Hoeven in 2000 — midway through the campaign she announced that she had breast cancer, which brought her a lot of attention, but probably doomed her chances of victory.

    She is only 55 (a fine age for a Senate run), still lives in North Dakota, is a lawyer and very active in civic affairs, and is in good health these days. Maybe it is time for her to jump back into politics — either for Senate or for House if Pomeroy steps up.  

  13. In no particular order:

    1)I honestly don’t think Hoeven will run; he’s never: a) struck me as being the type that wants to be in DC, b)struck me as being an ultra-partisan and given what the Senate is now, it would force him to become one, and c)the rumors that he would throw out about running always struck me as being a favor to the national GOP so they could talk up their chances nationally.

    2)If Hoeven doesn’t run, I think Dems have a 45%-50% chance of winning;  the upper Midwest probably hasn’t soured as much on the national Democratic agenda as other places. It’s a very community oriented society, and passing the healthcare bill probably helps Democrats a fair bit in the region.

    3)Democrats at least have some bench here with a few statewide officials and Earl Pomeroy (though I think he stays put). Roger Johnson, in particular, strikes me as a pretty solid choice, with Heidi Heitkamp close behind.

  14. John Hoeven may see this as an easy win now, but he is his third term for governor and if he likes doing this job a lot, he may decide to stay and run for a fourth term in 2012. Thus Earl Pomeroy would probably run and we would have Pomeroy running against Duanne Sand and we all know how that would end up. If Hoeven does not annouce he is running by the end of January or evn possible within the next couple of weeks, I’m going to assume he is not running.

    1. I live in Pennsylvania (and currently am in SC where it’s a few degrees warmer at least…it won’t be pleasant to go back on Saturday), though my Dad’s extended family is from Minnesota, which gives me some insight into the region.

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