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State Senator Tracy Potter is expected on Friday to announce that he’s seeking the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Byron Dorgan. Here’s a link to the story from the Fargo paper: State Sen. Potter in Senate race for Democrats. I'd never heard of him, so I did some research.

He’s the first Democrat to announce, but probably not the last. Heidi Heitkamp is widely considered the favorite. She was the Attorney General from 1993-2001 and then ran for Governor and lost to John Hoeven. She has expressed interest in running. Earl Pomeroy, currently the at-large Congressman, has said he’s not interested in the Senate seat. Some people have suggested TV/radio personality Ed Schultz, who has North Dakota roots.

Tracy Potter? Who’s he? I did some checking. He’s a State Senator, first elected in 2006 from the 35th district in Bismarck. He has a bachelor’s and a master’s in history, both from the University of North Dakota. He has written a book (Amazon link: Sheheke: Mandan Indian Diplomat--The Story of White Coyote, Thomas Jefferson, and Lewis and Clark (Hardcover)), about Sheheke (also known as White Coyote), who was part of the Lewis and Clark expedition and went to Washington, DC, to meet President Thomas Jefferson.

From, here’s a biography: Tracy Potter.

From Project Vote Smart, Tracy Potter’s ratings on his State Senate votes include:

ND Women’s Network and AAUW 100%
ND Farmer’s Union 89%
ND Chamber of Commerce 60%

Other Democrats

Here’s a Daily Kos diary from Adam Blomeke about Heidi Heitkamp: ND-Sen Heidi Heitkamp "Very Interested" in senate bid.

Here’s a Daily Kos R2K poll showing Hoeven vs. Heitkamp (55-34%) and Hoeven vs. Schultz (56-32%): ND-Sen, ND-AL: Hoeven (R) and Pomeroy (D) lead big.

The Republicans

Governor John Hoeven is almost certain to be the Republican nominee for the Senate seat. From what I’ve read, the teabaggers in North Dakota absolutely hate Hoeven, so it’s possible he’ll get challenged from the right. Our best chance might be if the Republicans have a nasty nomination fight. If the teabaggers run a third party candidate, that would be even better.

Three Things About North Dakota Politics

  1. It’s often called a red state. Yes, the Governor is Republican and ND voted for McCain in 2008. But both U.S. Senators are Democrats and the single Congressman is also a Democrat. So North Dakotans can be convinced to vote blue.
  1. A big issue there is energy (look at this graph of oil drilling: ND Monthly Production). They’re getting almost 8 million barrels of oil per month. That’s approximately the same as the amount pumped in one day by Saudi Arabia (so one month versus one day, about 3%). There are also big plans to install wind farms in ND.
  1. ND has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country (partly because of the oil boom). In December 2009, it was 4.3%. So the great recession is not likely to be a big factor.

I grew up in North Dakota and Minnesota and I still have relatives there, which is why this Seattleite keeps an eye on their politics. And if you're interested in why North Dakota has a Democratic-NPL party, here is a diary I wrote six months ago.

Incidentally, I'm not saying Potter is the best candidate, but so far he's the only Democrat to toss his hat in the ring and I wanted to know more about him. And I thought I should share it with you.

Originally posted to Dbug on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 09:23 PM PST.

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