National elections have always generated interest and accompanying campaign contributions in North Dakota, but the U.S. Senate race between Rep. Rick Berg and Heidi Heitkamp has taken fundraising and spending to a new level.
Berg and Heitkamp's latest finance reports show both candidates bringing in about $1.6 million in the past three months. Overall, Heitkamp has raised about $3.7 million, while Berg has raised about $5.6 million.
Berg and Heitkamp are spending an astounding amount of money, considering North Dakota has roughly 300,000 eligible voters (321,133 state votes were cast in the 2008 presidential election). And let's not forget the tsunami of political advertising blanketing the state that is paid for by groups other than the candidates themselves.
Indeed, politics has become big business in North Dakota.
We knew it was inevitable, but the multi-million campaign also represents yet another break from what some might call the good old days. We're certainly not naive enough to think that candidates for a U.S. Senate seat can simply walk in some parades, visit small-town cafes and make a few speeches and expect to win. It's just not that simple or inexpensive these days. No, nowadays candidates must put themselves in front of the voters early and often to keep their messages fresh in the minds of those deciding their fate. We just wish the candidates would spend more time touting their own values, positions and plans instead of constantly bashing their opponents. Unfortunately, we don't expect those tactics to change anytime soon.