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Published September 21, 2011, 04:40 PM

Democrat Pam Gulleson Running for U.S. House

FARGO – Democrat and former legislative leader Pam Gulleson is running for North Dakota’s U.S. House seat in 2012, with plans to formally announce her candidacy tomorrow in her hometown of Rutland.

By: Kristin M. Daum, Forum Communications

FARGO – Democrat and former legislative leader Pam Gulleson is running for North Dakota’s U.S. House seat in 2012, with plans to formally announce her candidacy tomorrow in her hometown of Rutland.

Gulleson told me earlier today about her intentions, and I’ll be meeting with her tomorrow before her kick-off event to discuss her candidacy. (Read Friday’s Forum for the complete story on her campaign.)

Gulleson is the first Democrat to jump in the race – which, at this point, pits her against Republican Brian Kalk, who sits on North Dakota’s Public Service Commission. The two are vying for the seat being vacated by Republican Rick Berg, who’s seeking the U.S. Senate next year.

Gulleson, 53, has worked in public policy for more than two decades – including work in health care and agriculture.

She represented Rutland in the North Dakota Legislature for 16 years – including a three-term stint as the Democrats’ assistant floor leader. She worked for former Sen. Byron Dorgan as his state director and chief of staff from 2002 until his retirement last year. (Democrats had encouraged her to run for Dorgan’s seat in 2010, but Gulleson opted against a bid at that time.)

She currently serves as an adviser to the president at the North Dakota Farmers Union and holds a seat on the board of directors for Dorgan’s brain-child, the Red River Valley Research Corridor.

Earlier this year, Gulleson earned the unanimous support of the Democratic legislative caucus and encouragement from both Dorgan and Sen. Kent Conrad when she was considering a potential campaign for the U.S. Senate race.

Gulleson appeared to be moving toward an official campaign earlier this summer, when she released a statement to statewide media following the devastating Minot flood. Rumors flared again earlier this week that an official announcement was forthcoming.

She’s long been rumored to launch a federal campaign for the 2012 election – but her intentions now to seek the House seat over the Senate mark a change from what many political observers expected of her this year. (The Democrats do not yet have an announced candidate in the Senate race.)

Dorgan praised Gulleson’s decision, saying her years of public policy experience would serve her well as a candidate.

“She’s really smart; she’s a very hard worker; she has a good sense of right and wrong, a good sense of North Dakota,” Dorgan told me this afternoon. “She understands the people of North Dakota and I’m very pleased that she’s running.”

Following the campaign launch tomorrow, Gulleson has planned a series of events around the state:

5:30 p.m. Thursday

Rutland General Store, 121 1st St., in Rutland

9 a.m. Friday

Fargo Air Museum, 1609 19th Ave. N. in Fargo

5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday

Bismarck-area reception at 2408 Laforest Ave. in Bismarck

3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday

Grand Forks / UND Potato Bowl

Daum writes for the Forum in Fargo

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