North Dakota's Sen. Kent Conrad set to retire


The clock never runs out on the political campaign season in Washington DC, and already two sitting US senators have announced their plans to call it quits when their terms expire during the 2012 election cycle. Kent Conrad (D-ND) joins Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) in the cliché headed for the sidelines.

Conrad’s retirement will bring an end to a career that will have spanned five terms.

North Dakota’s Byron Dorgan (D-ND), who took a special interest in communications matters and was a member of the key Commerce Committee, retired before the 2010 cycle, and Republican John Hoeven, now known as John Hoeven (R-ND), coasted to victory in an election season that also cost at-large rep Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) his seat.

Pomeroy is already being mentioned, along with a few others, as a possible Democratic candidate in Conrad’s stead.

North Dakota had become an early hotbed of political advertising during the month of January 2011, with third party groups buying time both for and against Conrad. Conrad even invested some cash in some airtime himself before arriving at the decision to call it quits.

Conrad is Chairman of the Budget Committee; he has not been a prominent player in broadcast matters that have come before the Senate. His politics contrasted a good bit with those of Dorgan. Conrad was one of the more conservative members of the Democratic senatorial caucus, while Dorgan on many issues was one of the more liberal members.

RBR-TVBR observation: Face value, we’re looking at the loss of one “R” and one “D,” but if the two senators were being replaced today, the end result would almost certainly be the addition of two “Rs” and a net gain for Republicans of one seat. Unless conditions change, that is likely what will actually happen two years from now.
That is certainly what the National Republican Senatorial Committee thinks – according to The Hill, NRSC fully expects to capture both seats, and has expressed its incredulity that Democrats believe even for a moment that Hutchison’s Texas seat represents a 2012 pick-up opportunity for them.