In late April, the Club released a statement saying that the state could do better than Berg. "The country needs the next Senator from North Dakota to have a pro-growth agenda in the U.S. Senate," said Club President Chris Chocola in the April 28 statement. "Congressman Rick Berg lacks leadership in addressing our nation's spending problem at a time when people want government to spend less, not more. The Republican Party can and should demand better." On Friday, when news of Berg's impending announcement broke, North Dakota Democratic-NPL Chairman Mark Schneider touted Berg's "disdain for the North Dakota values" in a press release. "Berg has done nothing positive for North Dakotans since his election to Congress and now he offers nothing but raw political ambition in his zeal to leave the job he just got to be North Dakota's next US Senator," said Schneider. Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk (R) has been in the race since before Conrad announced his retirement, and he made it clear that he intends to remain in the race. "I have already been labeled the underdog, but I put my faith in the Republican base, not Washington big shots," Kalk said Saturday in an email to supporters. Democrats have a thin bench in the state. Support is coalescing around former state Rep. Pam Gulleson (D), who worked for Sen. Byron Dorgan (D) as state director and chief of staff -- state Democrats publicly encouraged her to run last week, and Dorgan and Conrad have both indicated they would support her as well. A number of Republicans are mulling runs for Berg's seat, including state House Majority Leader Al Carlson, state Treasurer Kelly Schmidt, Tax Commissioner Cory Fong, North Dakota Republican Party Treasurer Bob Harms, and state Sen. Tony Grindberg.
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