US Senate-ND watch: Hoeven set to declare candidacy

In what is even more bad news for Democrats who are still reeling from the announcement that Senator Byron Dorgan will not run for re-election, the man who would have likely been his competitor in the fall election is all set to officially announce his candidacy this evening (via Dan Riehl):

North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven is expected to kick-off his candidacy for U.S. Senate Monday evening at a GOP district convention in Bismarck, according to a state Republican familiar with his plans.

Hoeven’s announcement will come just six days after Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan said he would retire rather than seek a fourth term in 2010.

Hoeven’s entry into the race is no surprise. A Rasmussen Reports poll conducted last month showed Hoeven lead Dorgan by 22 percentage points. Dorgan’s abrupt and unexpected exit from the campaign made the race even more appealing to the widely popular three-term governor.

In recent days, top Republicans, including 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, have encouraged Hoeven to make the run in a contest in which he’s presumed to be the favorite.

Hoeven, the nation’s longest-serving governor, is expected to begin speaking to the Bismarck Republican District Convention around 6:00 p.m. Monday in order to snag live coverage from the local evening newscasts.

“The timing just lends itself very well. It’s the first round of district conventions. I think it’s the natural place to do it given the timeline and the happenstance that that event is in Bismarck,” said the GOP source.

POLITICO has also learned that Republican Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer is planning a Thursday news conference to announce his own 2010 campaign intentions. Cramer is expected to take a third shot at knocking off nine-term Democratic Congressman Earl Pomeroy.

The article goes on to talk about the recruiting efforts Democrats are putting into this race in order to find a strong opponent to face Hoeven. Ed Schultz, one of MSDNC’s leading voices of liberal hatred, is one person whose name has been floating around as a possible contender, as is former ND Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp, whose last challenge to Hoeven back in 2000 for the Governor’s seat obviously didn’t pan out.

Sounds like the Democrats are desperate. Hotline On Call speculates that they may not even initiate a serious challenged to Hoeven. We shall see.

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