BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Republican Rick Berg defeated North Dakota's Democratic U.S. Rep. Earl Pomeroy on Tuesday, becoming the first Republican in 30 years to win the state's only seat in the U.S. House.
With 77 percent of the vote in late Tuesday, Berg had 55 percent of the vote to 45 percent for Pomeroy in unofficial returns.
Berg, 51, a former GOP majority leader in the North Dakota House, was triumphant in his first statewide campaign after 26 years representing a north Fargo district as a state lawmaker.
He unseated Pomeroy, a former Valley City attorney and North Dakota insurance commissioner who served for 18 years in the U.S. House. Pomeroy succeeded Democrat Byron Dorgan, who served in the House for a dozen years before he was elected to the Senate in 1992. Dorgan is leaving Congress at year's end.
Berg, who is a senior executive in a Fargo property development company, said he would advocate tax cuts, reduced federal spending and job creation incentives. He said his background in business and as a state legislator would make him an effective advocate for those causes.
He was critical of Pomeroy's support for federal health care legislation and financial bailouts of the auto and financial industries, saying the incumbent Democrat needed to pay more attention to the exploding national debt.
Pomeroy, 58, had faced his closest race since he got 52 percent of the vote eight years ago in defeating another Republican Rick, Tax Commissioner Rick Clayburgh.
Pomeroy emphasized his seniority and chairmanship of a House Ways and Means subcommittee on Social Security, arguing that congressional Republicans would push to convert Social Security into a private pension program and reduce the benefits of federal farm legislation.
He used a television ad in the campaign's closing days to acknowledge North Dakotans' discontent, saying: "I'm not (House Speaker)Nancy Pelosi. I'm not Barack Obama."
"I know I've disappointed you with a vote here or there, but you can always count on the fact that I do what I do for the right reason, for the people of North Dakota," Pomeroy said.