Heidi Heitkamp will be the next senator from North Dakota.
Republican Rep. Rick Berg conceded the election Wednesday afternoon, after initially refusing to do so in the wee hours of the morning when, with all districts reporting, the polls showed Heitkamp ahead by just under 3,000 votes.
The margin of Heitkamp’s victory was narrow enough that Berg could have demanded a recount. But Wednesday afternoon, he ended the race.
“With the ballots left outstanding, we see no reason to believe that the result of this election will change over the course of the official certification process. With that, I concede this election and congratulate Heidi Heitkamp, her family, staff and supporters on a hard-fought campaign,” Berg said at a luncheon in Fargo.
Heitkamp, the former attorney general, made strides in the red-leaning state in large part due to her excellent retail politics skills.
“This is a huge victory for the people of North Dakota,” said Sen. Patty Murray, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, in a statement. “Heidi Heitkamp ran one of the strongest races in the country and we were proud to support her from the very beginning. People counted her out, until they met her. Then they saw exactly what I saw — that Heidi is the kind of leader North Dakotans want in the U.S. Senate. She is going to be a great senator for the people of her state, and I will be so proud to work with her.”
Heitkamp gives Democrats their 55th vote in the Senate, assuming Angus King, the independent senator elect from Maine, caucuses with Democrats, as expected. She will fill the seat currently held by retiring Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad.