Breaking: Dem Senator Byron Dorgan (ND) set to retire at the end of his term this year

A pick-up opportunity in the Senate has just landed in the laps of the GOP:

Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) announced this evening that he’s retiring at the end of his term, a shocking development that threatens Democratic control of his Senate seat next year.

Dorgan was up for re-election in 2010, but the third-term senator wasn’t facing any strong Republican opposition– but was facing the growing possibility of a serious challenge from popular Gov. John Hoeven.

In his statement, Dorgan said his retirement was borne out of the desire to spend more time with his family.

“Over this holiday season, I have come to the conclusion, with the support of my family, that I will not be seeking another term in the U.S. Senate in 2010. It is a hard decision to make after thirty years in the Congress, but I believe it is the right time for me to pursue these other interests,” Dorgan said in a statement.


With Dorgan out of the race, North Dakota becomes a prime pickup opportunity for Senate Republicans. Dorgan was still enjoying strong popularity in public polls, and was favored to win re-election. But North Dakota has been reliably Republican at the presidential level — giving John McCain 53 percent of the vote in 2008 — and the president’s domestic agenda hasn’t been viewed favorably.

Gov. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) has been considered a possible challenger to Dorgan, and may now give newfound consideration to the race now that Dorgan is retiring.

A December Rasmussen poll showed Hoeven leading Dorgan by an astounding 22 points, 58 percent to 36 percent. Both candidates, according to the poll, held very strong approval ratings within the state.

Hoeven, a third-term governor, has rock-star appeal in North Dakota, with a majority of voters (53 percent) viewing him “very favorably” in the Rasmussen survey.

Zogby also had Hoeven up by a substantial amount over Dorgan in a Zogby poll taken in November. At this point, the question is: Will Hoeven run? The pressure builds to make a decision.

Add this potential Senate election to your “one to watch” file. And learn a little more about Gov. Hoeven here.


Here’s a link to Dorgan’s statement.

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