North Dakota’s U.S. House race has drawn national attention since the spring, something that has become even more clear in recent weeks. But did you ever expect the race would come up for discussion in Norway?
Late last month, I blogged about the increasingly bright national spotlight on the tight race between Democratic incumbent Rep. Earl Pomeroy and Republican challenger Rick Berg. And it’s a spotlight that has only gained intensity as Election Day approaches – something that was really evident in a post I wrote last week about national committees pumping advertising money into the state for the final few weeks of the campaign.
Now the state’s U.S. House race is getting some international attention. Kudos to Herald reporter Chuck Haga for picking up this story and for translating the Norwegian text into English, a feat that this mostly Norwegian guy could never accomplish.
Here’s the story – you can also look for it in Thursday’s Herald:
North Dakotaâ€™s hotly contested U.S. House race has drawn some international attention, as the U.S. correspondent of Aftenposten â€” the leading newspaper in Oslo, Norway â€” came to Grand Forks to talk with Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D.
â€œWhere â€˜Obamaâ€™s manâ€™ hunts for â€˜Norwegianâ€™ votesâ€ was the headline on correspondent Alf Ole Askâ€™s report published Monday in Aftenpostenâ€™s online edition.
The story begins, â€œOne of the health reformâ€™s strongest defenders is at risk of being thrown out of Congress.â€
Pomeroy is in a tight race with Republican Rick Berg, whose campaign has blasted the incumbentâ€™s support for the health reform package passed by Congress earlier this year.
â€œI have supported Earl Pomeroy before, but I wonâ€™t this time,â€ Ask quotes â€œan older manâ€ he met in the Guest House restaurant Thursday an hour before Pomeroy arrived for a campaign appearance. â€œHe has voted too much with (Speaker) Nancy Pelosi in Congress, too far to the left.â€
Noting that Grand Forks is a sister city to Sarpsborg, Norway, and that Pomeroy was one of the founders of the â€œfriends of Norwayâ€ group in Congress, Ask reports that the congressman joked in an interview that he could use a more Norwegian-sounding name for his campaign signs.
Berg is a common Norwegian name.
In the interview, Pomeroy was asked why American voters â€œhave swung so dramatically toward the right in the two years since the 2008 election.â€
â€œThe voters arenâ€™t comfortable that so much power is concentrated in federal hands in Washington,â€ Pomeroy said. â€œWhen the president and the majority in Congress are of the same party, many voters almost automatically will vote against (that party) in an off-year election.
â€œThe explanation (for the shift in voter sentiment) certainly also has to do with the economy,â€ he said. â€œIt is recovering slower than many had hoped. We have worked two years to clean up the economic catastrophe the Republicans left behind. Unemployment has climbed to 10 percent (nationally).
â€œPeopleâ€™s memories are short. Today, many lay the blame on President Barack Obama for these economic problems. As an economic analysis, thatâ€™s a wrong conclusion, but it is nonetheless a political reality.â€
Among political observers he consulted, Ask said, some said there is a better than 80 percent chance Pomeroy will lose this election. Republicans are scoring well with an argument that the longtime congressman has voted too closely with Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic leadership â€” and thus â€œagainst the interestsâ€ of people in his state.
Ask reported that while Pomeroy offers some criticisms of Pelosiâ€™s leadership, he â€” unlike many Democrats seeking re-election â€” â€œhas not distanced himself from his support for the health reformâ€ legislation.
â€œI believe itâ€™s right and important to stand up for what one believes,â€ Pomeroy told Aftenposten, adding that â€œin North Dakota, health reform had supportâ€ from doctors, hospitals and personnel in retirement homes.