First 2012 prediction lists Conrad’s seat as “likely Democratic”

Kent Conrad

FARGO – In the first gauge of 2012 Senate races, The Cook Political Report calls Kent Conrad‘s seat “likely Democratic” – an indicator of possible drama for the incumbent Democrat who has represented North Dakota for 24 years.

Cook Political’s rating also lends credibility to speculation on Capitol Hill that Conrad might be considering retirement over another re-election bid.

Conrad, 62, has served in the U.S. Senate since winning in a historic upset over Republican Mark Andrews in 1986.

The listing of “likely” Democrat – a step down from “solid” – means those “seats are not considered competitive at this point but have the potential to become engaged.”

Cook Political Report’s Senior Editor Jennifer Duffy says the likely column should be viewed as “a watch list.”

“Conrad has a decent re-election history and no challenger is looming on the horizon,” Duffy told me. “I can certainly see the potential for Conrad to have a race and there have been some rumors that he may even retire.  It’s one of those races that could move significantly over the next few months.”

The 2012 campaign season comes on the heels of dramatic change for North Dakota politics. Next month, two Republicans will join the state’s congressional delegation for the first time in decades.

This time last year, that outcome would’ve been almost unpredictable to most.

Sen. Byron Dorgan started out the campaign season in Cook Political’s “Solid Democrat” column, but his surprising retirement announcement changed everything for the race. Ultimately, Republican North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven won the seat handidly (and with a “Solid Republican” rating from Cook Political).

Dorgan’s looming retirement meant the loss of a strong incumbent to lead the Democratic ticket – making Rep. Earl Pomeroy vulnerable in what became the most competitive race of his career. Pomeroy lost by a 10-point margin to Republican Rick Berg.

Conrad has not yet formally announced his intentions for 2012, and it’s unclear how much of an impact the 2010 elections will have on his decision to run or the Senate race itself.

Though Conrad wasn’t facing an election contest this year, Republicans and conservative groups still hit him with tough criticism for his positions, especially over health care reform.

In helping with Pomeroy’s campaign, Conrad made speeches defending his own support for health care reform and spoke often in defense of drastic, and highly controversial, measures – like TARP and the stimulus package – which he says were required in order to save the country from an economic depression.

Conrad was unavailable for comment this afternoon (since the Senate was in special session for an impeachment trial of a federal judge), but I’ve offered his office the opportunity to comment when he is available.

5 thoughts on “First 2012 prediction lists Conrad’s seat as “likely Democratic”

  1. Wonderful!! It is indeed time for Kent Conrad to retire. He has served ND well. I voted for him when he first ran for the Senate. During that campaign he lied to all North Dakotans – he pledged that he would only serve 2 terms. I moved away before he ran for re-election, and moved back to ND shortly before his second term was done. I was extremely dissappointed when he ran for a 3rd term. I have not voted for him since.

  2. Now that Gaylord will be the last of ND’s three stooges in Congress standing; look for him to take the money and retire to one of his east coast mansions.

  3. North Dakota is insane to want to lose your “three stooges.” Do you realize how much postive influence Pomeroy had? And how influential Conrad is? It doesn’t get any better than that for a state as small as North Dakota, especially when they clearly have ND’s interests at heart. If Pomeroy had really become a Washington insider like he was accused of, why was he living in a basement for the majority of his Senate career and flying back to ND every weekend?

    Just because North Dakota tends to lean Republican doesn’t mean Republicans are the only ones who will represent ND well in Washington.

  4. These fools seem to think that if North Dakota stops bringing home more pork than it deserves other states will, too. Oh well, at least, as a college student, I can still emigrate to a blue state once the tea baggers boot Conrad, too.

  5. We finally got rid of Dorgan and Pomeroy , now lets clean the rest of the mess and dump Conrad. I’ve wrote and called them countless times and they always agreed with me. Yet when they voted they always voted against my views. It appears they forgot about somebody from ND and voted with the liberal communists in DC. Business as usual for a Dumbocrat.

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