After a long night of watching agonizingly close results roll in, U.S. Rep Rick Berg conceded North Dakota’s tightly contested U.S. Senate race to Democrat Heidi Heitkamp Wednesday afternoon. The decision headed off a potential recount that could have cost tens of thousands of dollars and dragged the contentious campaign out for another month.Speaking before the monthly luncheon gathering of the United Republican Committee of Cass County at Fargo’s Holiday Inn, Berg total a crowd of emotional supporters the margin of about 3,000 votes between him and Heitkamp was likely to hold up.
Republican Rep. Rick Berg said he will not concede the North Dakota Senate race to Democrat Heidi Heitkamp until the state completes its recount process, which would be next Tuesday. “This is a very close election, which is why North Dakota has a process in place to properly count each ballot and officially certify the result. This canvassing process will certify the election and provide an official result. The Berg for Senate campaign will await the results of the canvassing process before making any other announcements regarding the status of the election,” said Berg spokesman Chris Van Guilder in a release issued late Tuesday night.
With all precincts reporting, Democrat Heidi Heitkamp is leading Republican Rep. Rick Berg by only 3,000 votes in the North Dakota Senate race. Heitkamp has 160,752 votes in the initial count, while Berg has 157,758. The close margin between the candidates allows for a recount, and Berg has already vowed not to concede the race until one is completed.
A tight U.S. Senate race in North Dakota between Rick Berg and Heidi Heitkamp has some people talking about a possible recount. There is also talk a recount would create nightmares based on North Dakota’s election rules and the fact it is the only state without voter registration. North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger finds this kind of talk irritating. “We’ve done recounts in the past. We know how to do them. If we have a recount, we are prepared,” said Jaeger, who expects strong scrutiny from political parties and their attorneys if a recount is necessary. And he knows what he will tell them: Look, here’s the law, here’s what we’re going to do and this is the plan we’re going to follow.
A conservative group that helped lead the legal battle that would eventually allow for the creation of super PACs is now working to overturn North Dakota’s ban on election day campaigning, arguing it violates the First Amendment. The Center for Competitive Politics is representing former North Dakota Republican Party Chairman Gary Emineth in a lawsuit Emineth filed in federal court Tuesday to overturn the state law. “We think the law is unconstitutional and it should be invalidated,” Allen Dickerson, the center’s legal director, told The Huffington Post. The suit has garnered opposition from Democrats — including the campaign of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp — who believe the suit is intended to help Republican Senate nominee Rep. Rick Berg win the seat.