UPDATED: Fargo legislator Bette Grande entering U.S. House race

Bette Grande

FARGO – North Dakota’s 2012 U.S. House race will have another competitor by Tuesday morning.

Longtime Fargo legislator Bette Grande will make her “important announcement” at 10 a.m. in her hometown of Williston.

Grande is scheduled to speak at the Badlands Steel Company, 4324 4th Ave. W..

Grande, a Republican, has represented south-central Fargo since 1996, and she’s been among the top Republican prospects rumored to enter the U.S. House race this fall.

Grande said her years of legislative experience will be an advantage in what’s shaping up to be a competitive campaign season in North Dakota.

“As a legislator, there’s a process of being able to understand what kind of legislation is coming forward, finding both sides of the issue, and being able to move forward with where your core value is at,” Grande told The Forum earlier Monday.

“The advantage to being a legislator is I can go into the work, boots on the ground and ready to run,” she added.

If elected, Grande said she’d want to focus on reducing spending and resolving the national debt without raising taxes.

“There’s never a need to raise taxes no matter the situation, because that’s detrimental to the process,” she said.

She said overregulation is also a key concern, especially for North Dakotans in Oil Country.

That issue, in particular, strikes a personal chord for Grande, the daughter of a building contractor who was hit by the boom-and-bust of North Dakota’s last oil rush in the 1970s and 1980s.

“He felt that boom where the work was there and literally overnight it was gone,” Grande said.

In the current oil boom, “Williston deals with this in the way they can do it best,” she said. “The last thing they need is regulation standing in the way.”

Grande said the Environmental Protection Agency “is out of control” and state regulators need to be allowed to do their jobs with minimal federal interference.

“(The energy sector is) the greatest job creator we have in the nation,” she said. “Let’s let the industry work. Let’s get people moving.”

Grande spent the first 20 years of her life in Williston before attending the University of North Dakota, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in education.

Grande taught in the Twin Cities for a few years before coming to Fargo, where she’s lived for 20 years with her husband, Don.

Aside from serving in North Dakota’s part-time Legislature, Grande calls herself “retired” – having quit full-time work years ago to focus on raising her three children.

Grande’s resume still includes stints as an athletic trainer, substitute teacher and beet-truck driver, among other work.

“I like the jack-of-all trades jobs,” she said.

In the U.S. House race, Grande now challenges Republican Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk, who entered the race in May after a short-lived Senate run.

Other Republicans – including the two other legislators in Grande’s district, Sen. Tony Grindberg and Rep. Al Carlson – are also weighing potential campaigns.

The party’s official nominee will be decided at the state nominating convention next spring.

Former Democratic legislator Pam Gulleson entered the race two weeks ago and is expected to be the clear front-runner for her party’s nomination.

North Dakota’s lone House seat is up for grabs in 2012, since Republican Rep. Rick Berg is running for the U.S. Senate.