GOP puts heat on Pomeroy

January 16, 2010

It hasn’t been long since Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer’s announcement to run for the U.S. House and the race is already heating up.

Cramer was quick to draw links between Rep. Earl Pomeroy and Democratic leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President  Obama, particularly on  Pomeroy’s support of the health care legislation, a bill Cramer calls “Obamacare.”

Pomeroy’s office had no comment on Cramer’s candidacy, but a few Republican organizations have been distributing copies of a story by the popular political blog Politico that writes of Pomeroy’s “emotional talk”  with other Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee.

According to the article, Pomeroy expressed his fear that a protracted health care debate is so hurting his chances of re-election that he might as well retire.

The article includes a quote from an anonymous source saying Pomeroy was “very angry,” and of those in the room “he was the maddest by far.”

This coincides with rumors that Pomeroy is being considered for the CEO job with the American Council  of Life Insurers.

Pomeroy’s office sought to dispel any rumor that he would be ending his campaign.

“Congressman Pomeroy’s comments were misinterpreted,” Melanie Rhinehart  Van Tassell, a spokeswoman for the representative, said via e-mail. “Let me be clear, he’s running for re-election. Like all North Dakotans, he’s frustrated and angry with the mess and inaction in Washington, and will continue to fight hard for North Dakota.”

But while Pomeroy already may be on the defensive,  the number of Republicans seeking nomination could make for a feisty state convention.

Bismarck insurance agent Paul Schaffner and Cramer have already made their candidacies official, but sources say that state representative and former House Majority Leader Rick Berg of Fargo will enter the race on Friday.

Fargo City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn said he is a considering a run and will make a decision in the coming weeks.

The nomination goes to whichever candidate can secure 60 percent of the vote from the convention’s delegates, which includes party leaders, state legislators and members of the public.

Both Cramer and Berg said competition will ensure a good candidate.

“It’s going to be a fun convention,” Berg said.

And even without a Democratic competitor, the U.S. Senate race is getting under way as well. Gov.  John Hoeven took time this week to meet with the Campaign for Responsible Health Care Reform and will be holding a press conference with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on Monday in Fargo.
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