Friday, September 30, 2005

Hoeven said no to running in 2006

This just in: Hoeven says he won't run for U.S. Senate in 2006

It's just too good to be true!!!

Here's the article in full:

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Gov. John Hoeven says he will not run against U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad next year, depriving Republicans of someone they considered their strongest candidate against the Democratic incumbent.

"A day may come when we ask the people of North Dakota to allow us to serve them in a different capacity, but that time is not now," Hoeven said Friday in a brief statement issued by his office.

"The outpouring of support and encouragement I have received to run for the United States Senate is truly humbling, but as I have said, repeatedly, I am focused squarely on the job of governor," his statement said.

Hoeven could not be reached immediately for additional comment. He was overwhelmingly re-elected last year, defeating Democrat Joe Satrom with more than 70 percent of the vote. A recent independent poll, commissioned by The Forum newspaper, showed Hoeven making a strong showing against Conrad.

Republicans have been attempting to push Hoeven into a race against Conrad, who is seeking re-election in 2006. A former state tax commissioner, Conrad was first elected to the Senate in 1986, upsetting Republican Mark Andrews, who had been in Congress for 23 years.

Since Conrad's victory, North Dakota's congressional delegation has been entirely Democratic. Only Rep. Earl Pomeroy has had close races against GOP challengers, despite Republican arguments that North Dakota needed a GOP voice in a Republican-controlled Congress.

Conrad professed to be unworried about the prospect of running against Hoeven, but he began running a television campaign ad statewide earlier this month, touting his work on energy and highway legislation and promoting his role in helping to ensure the Grand Forks Air Force Base survived a national round of base closings.

If Hoeven had undertaken a campaign, it was uncertain what issues he would emphasize. The governor has not made a point of drawing distinctions between his own policy views and those held by the Democratic delegation.

The governor even declared himself a Democrat in February 1996, while party activists were trying to interest him in running against incumbent GOP Gov. Ed Schafer, and spoke warmly of Dorgan and Conrad.

Hoeven subsequently switched parties, and was able to wrest the Republican endorsement for governor in 2000 from Gary Nelson, the Republicans' majority leader in the state Senate. It was Hoeven's first campaign for public office; in the general election race for governor, he defeated Democratic Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp.

Hoeven, a Minot banker, became active in state government when he was hired as president of the state-owned Bank of North Dakota in 1993. He resigned the position in 2000 to devote full time to his first campaign for governor.