The Fix: North Dakota

Senate surprises stoke majority ambitions on both sides

Senate surprises stoke majority ambitions on both sides

Senate Democrats’ and Republicans’ campaign arms would be wise to heed the words of Oscar Wilde, the 19th century Irish dramatist: “To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect.”

With nearly all of the major Senate primaries wrapped up, a series of unexpected events has swung momentum to and fro in the battle for the Senate, with the end result being a landscape offering a path to the majority for both parties.

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GOP Senate candidates mixed on inviting Ryan to campaign for them

GOP Senate candidates mixed on inviting Ryan to campaign for them

Republican Senate candidates in some marquee races say they would be happy to campaign with the GOP's new vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)

But others are apparently resistant to the idea.

Democrats have attempted to attach Ryan and his plan to Republicans all over the country, labeling Ryan their "running mate" and hoping his controversial Medicare plan hurts downballot GOPers.

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GOP Senate candidates mixed on inviting Ryan to campaign for them

GOP Senate candidates mixed on inviting Ryan to campaign for them

Republican Senate candidates in some marquee races say they would be happy to campaign with the GOP’s new vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)

But others are apparently resistant to the idea.

Democrats have attempted to attach Ryan and his plan to Republicans all over the country, labeling Ryan their “running mate” and hoping his controversial Medicare plan hurts downballot GOPers.

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North Dakota’s Senate race is no sure thing for GOP

Republicans won an open Senate seat in North Dakota in 2010 in a cakewalk. Given that result and the state’s conservative lean in a presidential year, when Sen. Kent Conrad (D) shocked the political world by announcing his plans to retire rather than seek reelection in 2012, it was considered something short of a given that the GOP would win the open seat contest in November.

But a series of polls in North Dakota in recent weeks — most of them from Democratic pollsters — show the race is neck-and-neck between former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp (D) and Rep. Rick Berg (R).

And with the general election officially launching after Tuesday’s primary, the state is looking like a real chore for the GOP rather than a seat it can already count on in its quest to retake a Senate majority. At least for now.
FILE - In this March 31, 2012 file photo, Senate candidate Rep. Rick Berg (R-N.D.) shakes hands with supporters in Bismarck, N.D. (AP Photo/Will Kincaid, File)

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Cynthia Dill and Charlie Summers to face Angus King in Maine Senate race

Updated at 11:49 p.m.

The two major parties chose their candidates for Maine’s open Senate seat, but in this unusual race, both will face an uphill battle against popular former governor Angus King, an independent.

State Sen. Cynthia Dill beat former Maine secretary of state Matthew Dunlap and two other candidates in the Democratic primary. She ran as a progressive Democrat fighting Gov. Paul LePage (R).

On the GOP side, current Secretary of State Charles Summers beat out state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin and four others. Poliquin ran to the right of Summers and lost despite outraising his rival and getting help from the outside group FreedomWorks.

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Redskins fans may want to keep an eye on North Dakota tonight

Washington Redskins fans who treasure their team’s nickname may want to cast their eyes westward tonight as North Dakotans vote on whether to preserve their team’s own divisive mascot.
The North Dakota Fighting Sioux hockey team. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

Measure 4 in North Dakota is one of the most significant developments in the decades-long controversy over American Indian mascots used by colleges and pro sports teams.

The University of North Dakota’s “Fighting Sioux” nickname — which has long been controversial but now risks financial and competitive sanctions from the NCAA — will face a rare public referendum in what has been a lengthy and ongoing process.

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Kent Conrad will serve out term, denies interest in OMB job

Kent Conrad will serve out term, denies interest in OMB job

Retiring Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) will serve out his term and won’t leave his seat early to become director of the Office of Management and Budget, an aide tells the The Fix.

Conrad has been suggested by some as a potential replacement for recently departed OMB director Jack Lew, who has been named the next White House chief of staff, and Conrad’s staff did nothing to douse the rumors late last week, neither confirming nor denying his interest in the position in an interview with the Bismarck Tribune.

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