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Republican concedes North Dakota Senate race

November 07, 2012|By Lisa Mascaro
  • Democratic candidate for North Dakota's Senate seat Heidi Heitkamp speaks to supporters in Bismarck, N.D.
Democratic candidate for North Dakota's Senate seat Heidi Heitkamp… (Will Kincaid / Associated…)

WASHINGTON – With the concession of the Republican in the North Dakota Senate race, Democrat Heidi Heitkamp becomes the uncontested winner,  and the 20th woman to join the upper chamber in the new Congress, setting a  record.

Republican Rep. Rick Berg conceded the race Wednesday in Fargo during a luncheon meeting of party members, declining to seek a recount for the race that was decided by fewer than 3,000 votes.

“We see no reason to believe that the result of this election will change over the course of the official certification process,” Berg said in a statement. “With that, I concede this election and congratulate Heidi Heitkamp, her family, staff and supporters on a hard-fought campaign.”

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The North Dakota seat had been crucial to the Republican strategy as they sought to win back the majority, but the GOP efforts fell far short in this state and elsewhere.

Democrats ended up expanding their majority from 53-47 to 54-45, and they may get a further boost if the incoming independent senator from Maine, Angus King, decides to caucus with the party.

The clear win for Heitkamp gives the chamber a record 20 female senators when the new Congress convenes next year – four new Democrats and one new Republican. The seat was opened by the retirement of  Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad, and Heitkamp’s  victory keeps it in the Democratic column.

Heitkamp acknowledged Wednesday that “there are many people in our state who did not vote for me,” and promised “to every North Dakotan: I will be a senator for each and every one of you.”

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The state’s former attorney general, who was diagnosed with breast cancer several years ago while running for governor, Heitkamp was a long-shot candidate in the Republican state.

She ran a tireless campaign as a moderate Democrat who pointed out that she did not always agree with President Obama and who put the first-term congressman, who joined Congress with the 2010 tea party wave, on defense.

Berg kept a lower profile, but received a late assist with a TV ad from Mitt Romney.

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