Berg: Senate Democrats are barrier to change (w/ video)

Rick Berg

FARGO – Kicking off his 2012 campaign here this morning, North Dakota Republican Rep. Rick Berg elaborated on why he wants to make the move to the U.S. Senate.

Berg – who’s been in Congress less than five months – declared his candidacy in the race Monday through an online video to supporters.

He’ll compete with Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk for the party’s endorsement next spring.

Berg’s successful campaign for the U.S. House last year was anchored on a platform of transforming Washington and enacting “common sense” policies “to get our country back on track.”

His bid for Senate rests on an identical premise. Except, now it’s not all of Washington culture that needs change – it’s the U.S. Senate.

He made his pitch to Republican supporters gathered this morning in Fargo for the congressman’s first campaign stop on a statewide tour this week.

Berg blamed partisan politics for the lack of change in Washington.

“The Democrat majority in the Senate is blocking real reforms,” Berg said. “Our nation’s future depends on us crafting policies that will rein in government and create jobs. To do this, we have to change the mindset of the U.S. Senate.”

Echoing his House campaign, Berg emphasized the need for job creation, energy growth and reduced government spending.

He again called for the repeal of “Obamacare” and chided Senate leadership for its “unwillingness to meet these challenges.”

In January, House Republicans – including Berg – passed legislation that would repeal the controversial health care reform law President Barack Obama signed last year.

“We have to repeal Obamacare,” Berg said. “The Senate still refuses to take a vote on repealing the health care bill. The Democrat majority in the Senate is the barrier.”

Republicans would need to win at least four additional Senate seats in the 2012 election in order to hold the majority of that chamber.

North Dakota Democrats question Berg’s decision to seek the Senate, arguing he’s “the last person who deserves a promotion.”

When asked at Tuesday’s event for specific examples of how he’s working to address the nation’s problems as a member of Congress, Berg spoke only in pluralities – referring to legislation passed by the Republican majority, including Berg.

“We’ve passed several bills, both spending reduction and government reduction,” Berg said. “They’ve gone to the Senate and they’re just sitting there. That’s the challenge.”

“The bigger issue, of course, is we’ve got to get our country working,” he added. “We’ve got to get our country back on track and to do this, the culture in D.C. needs to change.”

Berg’s voting record shows he hasn’t introduced any bills yet and he’s co-sponsored 17 with fellow House members. (In comparison, an analysis of other members’ voting records revealed about 25 percent of House freshmen haven’t introduced their own legislation yet this session, and only two members had co-sponsored fewer bills than Berg has.)

Berg also declined to comment on the differences between himself and the only other declared candidate, the Republican Kalk.

“Our focus is really on getting this message out,” he said. “Our focus is building this team and our focus is getting America back on track.”

Berg continues his statewide tour today in Grand Forks. On Thursday, he’ll visit Wahpeton, Jamestown, Devils Lake, Williston, Dickinson and his hometown of Hettinger.