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Published June 12, 2012, 10:50 PM

Berg secures GOP nod in Senate race: Berg led Sand by 2-to-1 margin in Republican primary

FARGO – After a decisive victory Tuesday, Republican Rep. Rick Berg will represent his party in North Dakota’s hotly contested U.S. Senate race this November.

FARGO – After a decisive victory Tuesday, Republican Rep. Rick Berg will represent his party in North Dakota’s hotly contested U.S. Senate race this November.

In incomplete but unofficial results, Berg led challenger Duane Sand by a 2-to-1 margin in the Republican primary.

As of press time, Berg had 66 percent of Tuesday’s vote, compared to 33 percent who voted for Sand, with 426 of 426 precincts reporting.

Berg said in a statement he was humbled by the primary victory.

“With the continued support of North Dakotans throughout the state, we will win in November, we will change the U.S. Senate and we will restore the promise of the American dream for future generations,” Berg said.

The matchup gave voters a choice between the perennial underdog and the establishment candidate.

Berg was endorsed by the state Republican Party this spring and is in his first term as North Dakota’s lone congressman. He was first elected in 2010 after knocking off longtime incumbent Democrat Earl Pomeroy.

Sand did not seek the Republican Party’s endorsement, instead wanting to face Berg in the primary.

This was Sand’s fourth bid for a congressional seat. He ran unsuccessful campaigns for the Senate in 2000 and for the House in 2004 and 2008.

Out of 101,464 votes reported statewide by 12:30 a.m., Berg received 67,383 votes in Tuesday’s primary, while Sand received 33,971 votes.

Sand told The Forum he texted Berg to congratulate him shortly after the race was called.

“I’m already moving on in my mind,” Sand said, adding that he plans to pursue building a nuclear power plant in North Dakota.

Berg will now face Democrat Heidi Heitkamp in the November general election. Heitkamp ran uncontested in the Democratic-NPL primary.

U.S. Senate members serve six-year terms and receive an annual salary of $174,000. The seat is open this year since Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad is retiring after 25 years in office.

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