Gulleson: Flood recovery first, potential Senate bid second

Pam Gulleson

FARGO – Former Rutland legislator Pam Gulleson appears to be positioning herself closer to a U.S. Senate run – but nothing’s definite yet and likely won’t be for a while.

Gulleson indicated Wednesday that she wants North Dakotans to focus on flood recovery efforts across the water-ravaged state before turning to talk of 2012 campaigns.

Gulleson remains at the top of a very short list of potential Democratic candidates in the 2012 election to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad.

Gulleson has so far been very vague about her intentions to start a campaign, and she’s still not confirming anything.

However, the underlying message of a statement she sent out to state media yesterday indicate she’s lining up her plans behind the scenes.

Unsolicited, Gulleson issued a statement expressing her commitment to help in the recovery of the flood-inundated communities on the Missouri and Souris rivers:

“North Dakotans have turned their full attention to helping the families affected by the devastating floods in Minot and Bismarck and the surrounding communities.

My family and I are committed to joining our neighbors and others from across the state to do all we can to help with the recovery.”

While I am giving strong consideration to a run for the U.S. Senate, North Dakota families come first. A decision will come only after significant progress has been made on recovery efforts.”

While genuinely expressing concern, the underlying nature of Gulleson’s statement indicates she’s also likely poising herself for a Senate campaign, possibly later this summer.

Gulleson already has the the unanimous support of the Democratic legislative caucus and encouragement from both Conrad and former Sen. Byron Dorgan.

Gulleson was a longtime staffer for Dorgan, including serving as his state director and chief of staff from 2002 until his retirement last year. She also previously represented Rutland in the North Dakota Legislature for 16 years – including a stint as the Democrats’ floor leader

Gulleson now works as a senior adviser at the North Dakota Farmers Union and serves on the board of directors for Dorgan’s brain-child, the Red River Valley Research Corridor.