FARGO – North Dakota Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer says he has no interest in seeking the state’s 2012 U.S. Senate race, despite the existence of a faux Facebook campaign in his name.
Instead, Cramer tells The Forum that he’s among the dozens of state Republicans who have signed on to a letter encouraging Rep. Rick Berg to seek the state’s seat in the upper chamber of Congress.
Rebecca Beitsch at The Bismarck Tribune first reported last night that state Rep. RaeAnn Kelsch, of Mandan, was circulating a letter of support for Berg, which had already garnered about 70 signatures from state Republicans.
Berg has so far remained silent about any prospect that he might jump in the Senate race.
However, Roll Call cited GOP insiders today in reporting that Berg would likely become a candidate and announce his intentions soon.
At this point, the only confirmed candidate is Cramer’s fellow Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk, who launched an exploratory campaign in January and plans to formally announce his candidacy tomorrow in Fargo. That event kicks off a 20-city tour across North Dakota.
For his part, Cramer said Kalk would be “a fine candidate” but he puts his support behind Berg.
“From the very early days of Kent Conrad‘s announcement, I have felt Rick is entitled to be our candidate,” Cramer said. “Rick has certainly earned the right of first refusal, and I still think that he would be a great candidate, if he chose to run and he’d probably best represent North Dakota Republicans as a candidate.”
In March 2010, Cramer lost to Berg in a competitive bid for the Republican nomination for the U.S. House race, which Berg ultimately won.
Meanwhile, Cramer shot down speculation that he would be a candidate in the Senate race. A Facebook page claiming a Cramer candidacy under the title “Kevin Cramer for U.S. Senate (R-ND) 2012” has no affiliation with him, Cramer said.
Cramer said he first noticed the page shortly after Conrad announced his retirement in January. As of Tuesday afternoon, the page had only one fan and had no information listed on it, raising red flags to its validity.
“It came as a total surprise to me; I have no idea who it is,” Cramer said with a chuckle. “It wasn’t me.”