InForum: Hedger says her heart’s in bid for Senate

inforumNorth Dakota Democrat Kristin Hedger said she’s “actively exploring” a U.S. Senate bid but won’t confirm yet whether she is running.

Hedger, a former secretary of state candidate, is also a former aide to North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan, who announced in January that he will retire at the end of this year.

Since that announcement, Hedger has said she was considering a run at Dorgan’s seat but wanted first to know the intentions of Heidi Heitkamp – a former attorney general and gubernatorial candidate who has widely been encouraged to run for the Democrats.

Hedger said Monday she still supports Heitkamp, but added of the possibility for her own Senate bid that “my heart’s in it.”

“I have a real passion for public service and I’d be honored to serve,” she said.

“It would be good for North Dakota to have a business mind in the United States Senate, and I know that I could be a really effective leader.”

Hedger, 29, is vice president of her family’s company, Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing.

Hedger said her first obligation is to KMM, but acknowledged she’s making preparations for a possible campaign.

“I’ve been working with my team in Killdeer to evaluate and make sure we have a sound infrastructure set up so that I can continue to provide leadership from the campaign trail and empower other managers to take on greater responsibility,” she said.

Hedger’s comments this week mark a shift from more vague comments she made in January.

Democratic-NPL Party Chairman Mark Schneider noticed that, and said he believes Hedger “is definitely leaning toward it.”

“Kristin Hedger would be an excellent candidate,” Schneider said. “She has a lot to bring to the table – youth and energy. She’s an independent businesswoman from the west, and she’s run a statewide campaign before.”

Hedger, who ran unsuccessfully against Al Jaeger for secretary of state in 2006, said she is attending the district conventions statewide to “articulate my vision and ask the team what their thoughts are.”

Heitkamp did not return a message left at her home Monday, but said earlier this month she was weighing a possible Senate bid.

Schneider said he’s “still very optimistic that Heidi Heitkamp will get in the race.”

Bismarck state Sen. Tracy Potter is the only declared Democratic candidate in the race, but Schneider expects more candidates before the state convention in March.

Gov. John Hoeven and Paul Sorum, of Fargo, are vying for the Republican nomination in the race.