Other Democratic possibilities with higher name identification include former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp, who may be the biggest name Democratic possibility, though she may also be eying the gubernatorial race. Her brother Joel Heitkamp, a radio show host is also a possibility. Other names being mentioned in state circles include state Sen. Ryan Taylor and state Sen. Tracy Potter, the 2010 nominee who was no match for now-Sen. John Hoeven (R) in 2010.
On the Republican side, Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk has already formed an exploratory committee, while Republicans still have their eyes on freshman Rep. Rick Berg, who would be a very formidable contender if he ran. Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem is another possibility that Republicans in the state like.
The Cook Report currently lists the race as a tossup. Conrad's retirement was a boost to Republican chances of picking up the seat. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) beat Barack Obama the state in 2008 by almost nine points in the presidential race.