Excerpts from Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest


ND-Sen, ND-AL: Republicans plan to make North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp a top target, but it may be a little while before we know who will oppose her. GOP Rep. Kevin Cramer represents the entire state in the House and he has expressed interest. However, after several very stupid Cramer comments, national Republicans reportedly aren't feeling great about him and hope someone else will run. Perhaps some of those Republicans are having some unpleasant flashbacks about ex-Rep. Rick Berg, who ran for what was an open seat in 2012 but narrowly lost to Heitkamp even as Romney was winning the state 58-39.

They may not need to be worried about accidentally nominating the next Rick Berg, however, because they may end up with the original version. Berg has been pretty quiet in North Dakota politics since his defeat, but the local blog Say Anything has heard that the former congressman "had been initiating conversations about a campaign this cycle." Berg himself didn't deny it, telling Say Anything, "Never say never." However, Berg didn't say what office he was interested in. If Cramer does run for the Senate after all, it's possible Berg may try to reclaim the House seat he gave up after just one term.

Berg's 2012 Senate campaign wasn't an utter train wreck the same way that Missouri's Todd Akin's or Indiana's Richard Mourdock's were, but he definitely made some mistakes. As we recently noted, Berg's most prominent flop was a brutally stilted ad he ran featuring four older women sitting at a diner talking made-up smack about Heitkamp. The spot-which Berg quickly tried to hide-was bitingly derided as a "senior citizen remake of Mean Girls," and the actors' cattiness toward the sunny and pleasant Heitkamp made Berg look sullen and venomous. In a state that prides itself on being "North Dakota nice," Berg wound up looking anything but. However, thanks in large part to Heitkamp's campaign skills, this contest was competitive long before that ad ran. Amazingly, though, Cramer's brand of women's outreach may be even worse.

Luckily for Republicans, they have some other options. Wealthy state Sen. Tom Campbell has said in the past that he'll run for whichever federal office Cramer doesn't seek, and national Republicans are reportedly hoping to convince him to challenge Heitkamp. State Rep. Rick Becker is also considering, and he recently went to D.C. for meetings about a possible Senate bid. Becker, a libertarian-flavored Republican whose signature issue is curtailing the use of surveillance drones by police, ran for governor last year. However, Becker dropped out before the GOP primary after losing the state party endorsement to Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, who went on to badly lose the primary to now-Gov. Doug Burgum. It's unclear if any major GOP groups are interested in having him as their nominee against Heitkamp.