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Published April 13, 2012, 10:20 PM

N.D. Senate race attracts nearly $4 million in contributions

The top contenders in North Dakota’s U.S. Senate race have raised nearly $4 million between them so far, a figure that highlights the competitive attraction to the state’s open seat.

By: Kristen M. Daum, Forum Communications Co.

FARGO – The top contenders in North Dakota’s U.S. Senate race have raised nearly $4 million between them so far, a figure that highlights the competitive attraction to the state’s open seat.

Republican-endorsed candidate Rep. Rick Berg and Democrat Heidi Heitkamp each reported their basic fundraising numbers Friday for the first three months of 2012.

Neither campaign released the candidates’ complete financial reports, which include specific details on the source of their donations.

Federal candidates have until midnight Sunday to report first-quarter finances to the Federal Election Commission. The FEC then publishes the reports online for public access.

Freshman congressman Berg raised $943,118 in the first quarter of this year, said campaign spokesman Chris Van Guilder, which means Berg has taken in $2.7 million toward his U.S. Senate run so far.

That total includes the remaining campaign funds Berg carried over from his 2010 House race.

After expenses, Berg had $1.6 million in cash on hand as of April 1, Van Guilder said.

Berg’s full financial report will not be released until Monday, he said.

Heitkamp has raised more than $1 million in contributions after six months on the campaign trail.

Heitkamp’s campaign provided Forum Communications on Friday with the summary pages to Heitkamp’s first-quarter FEC report. The complete report was not made available.

During the first three months of 2012, Heitkamp raised $590,300 toward her bid, adding to the sizable haul she took in at the end of last year.

After reported expenses, Heitkamp entered April with nearly $850,000 in cash on hand and no reported debt.

A significant portion of Heitkamp’s first-quarter earnings came from political parties and political action committees.

Those groups donated a combined $162,191, or about 27 percent of her quarterly fundraising, the summary report showed.

Heitkamp also received $121,625 in transfers from authorized committees, which collected donations on her behalf.

Without the full report, it’s unknown what those authorized committees are. Heitkamp has approved several joint-fundraising committees to help raise campaign funds on her behalf.

Those committees reflect her joint-fundraising efforts with the dozen Democratic women who are running for the U.S. Senate this year.

Republican Duane Sand, who will challenge Berg in the primary, did not have his quarterly fundraising numbers available as of Friday afternoon.

At the same point in the 2010 election for the Senate seat left open when Byron Dorgan retired, then-Gov. John Hoeven, a Republican, had raised $1.5 million and Tracy Potter, the Democrat Hoeven handily defeated, had raised $18,625.

In the Senate race in 2006, Sen. Kent Conrad — whose seat Berg and Heitkamp are seeking — had $3.5 million on hand on March 31 and had raised $5 million since his 2000 campaign. His GOP opponent that year, farmer Dwight Grotberg, had not started raising money yet.

Through the first quarter of fundraising in the state’s most recent competitive Congressional race — 2010’s House contest between Rep. Earl Pomeroy and Berg — Pomeroy had reported $1.5 million in contributions since his last election, while Berg had raised $378,585 by that point.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541

Daum reports for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Herald

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