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Republicans plan debate in Valley City

GRAND FORKS -- North Dakota's candidates vying for the Republican endorsement to run for the U.S. House will gather in Valley City later this month for the first debate of the campaign season.

Event chairman Rick Ross said in a written statement Wednesday that there are an "unprecedented" five Republican contenders in the 2012 race.

"We feel it's important to start the dialogue early and allow the public to get acquainted with each candidate's message," he wrote.

The debate will feature all four announced Republican candidates: Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer, former Department of Commerce Commissioner Shane Goettle, state Rep. Bette Grande, R-Fargo, and Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk.

State Rep. Kim Koppelman, R-West Fargo, also will participate in the debate. He has formed an exploratory committee for a possible U.S. House bid.

Delegates at next spring's state convention will select the Republican endorsed candidate who will run to replace Republican Rep. Rick Berg, who is running for the U.S. Senate next year.

Former state Rep. Pam Gulleson, D-Rutland, is the only declared Democrat so far in the U.S. House race.

The debate is open to the public and is at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14 at the Vangstad Auditorium on the campus of Valley City State University. Chris Berg, host of AM-1100's "We the People" radio show, will moderate the event.

During the event, candidates will offer opening and closing statements and answer questions from conservative groups across the state.

Compiled by the staff of Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.