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Many contenders for Sen. Conrad's open seat

BISMARCK -- State Sen. Tony Grindberg of Fargo has expressed interest in running for the U.S. Senate, adding his name to what will likely become a long list after Kent Conrad announced he is retiring.

Grindberg, a Republican representing District 41, sent an e-mail to district party chairmen this week indicating his interest.

"Initially, I was going to express my interest with party leaders this spring, upon conclusion of the legislative session," Grindberg wrote in the e-mail. "However, given Senator Kent Conrad's announced retirement last week, I felt I needed to inform Republican district leaders of my interest."

Grindberg, executive director of the North Dakota State University Research and Technology Park, declined to comment Thursday, saying he would wait until after the legislative session.

In his e-mail, Grindberg stated he and his wife, Karen, have been discussing for the past two months how his "background and skills could contribute solutions by representing our great state in Washington, D.C."

Grindberg concluded the e-mail by saying his sole focus now is the current legislative session.

The 50-year-old was first elected to the state Senate in 1992.

Grindberg has served as vice chairman of Senate Appropriations since 2003, was elected Republican Caucus Chairman from 1996-2000, elected Senate President Pro Tempore for the 2001 legislative session.

Mark Schneider, chairman of the state Democratic-NPL Party, said he expects many Republicans to "come out of the woodwork" for the seat being vacated by the long-serving Democrat.

"They would just salivate to have this Senate seat," Schneider said. "It's going to be a real spirited contest, on both sides."

Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk, also a Republican, has announced that he has formed an exploratory committee for a possible Senate bid.

On Thursday, Kalk said his committee is still in the exploratory phase. He said he expects many people to throw their names in now that Conrad is retiring.

"The more people that get involved in this process, I think, the better," Kalk said.

No Democrats have formally announced their interest in the seat.

Schneider said some possible candidates from the Democrats include Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp and her brother, former state legislator Joel Heitkamp; current state sens. Mac Schneider and Ryan Taylor; former state lawmakers Pam Gulleson, Tracy Potter and Jasper Schneider; and Conrad state director Scott Stofferahn.

Forum Communications reporter Teri Finneman contributed to this report

Dalrymple is a reporter for

The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by

Forum Communications Co.