BISMARCK For the first time in 24 years, North Dakota will have a Republican U.S. senator.
Gov. John Hoeven, formerly of Minot, was elected to represent North Dakota for the Senate seat now being held by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D. Dorgan, who will have served in the Senate for 30 years by the end of this year, did not seek re-election.
Hoeven was leading 76 percent to 21 percent as of 10 p.m. with 65 percent of the precincts reporting.
"It was a great experience," said Hoeven from Bismarck, obviously elated with the high numbers as the votes were being tallied Tuesday night.
"First off, I really appreciate my wife, Mikey, and my family. It was a team effort," he said. Besides his family, he said it was a whole crew of people people from all around the state who helped them in this effort. "A big thank you," he said, for all the help.
When he ran for governor of North Dakota, Hoeven focused on job creation and empowering the people. He said he will take that to the U.S. Senate. "We've got to get this country going and working...," Hoeven said, giving a lengthy list of ways to get that accomplished.
Hoeven praised the people the community of North Dakota for the support. He said he and his wife truly enjoy what they are doing and are ready for the next step at the national level.
Tracy Potter, a Democrat who ran against Hoeven, also said his venture into statewide campaigning was "really a great experience."
"It was an awful lot of fun," he added. But he said it also was very exhausting. He said the campaign was uplifting in many ways.
"A lot of people felt good about the message I was delivering," he said.
"We knew going in John Hoeven, a popular governor, would be hard to beat. But that didn't stop me from articulating and showing new methods of campaigning, including at the 53 courthouses," Potter said. He made campaign stops at courthouses in each county.
Potter is the executive director of the Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation. He's also served as a state senator representing a Bismarck district. His term will be up at the end of this year.
Hoeven will join Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., in the U.S. Senate. Conrad was first elected to Congress in 1986.
North Dakota has not had a Republican senator since 1986, when then-Tax Commissioner Conrad narrowly defeated GOP incumbent Mark Andrews.
The Hoeven for Senate campaign was holding election night celebrations Tuesday night for invited supporters in Bismarck and three other North Dakota cities Minot, Grand Forks and Fargo.
The celebration in Bismarck was held at the Bismarck Civic Center with Hoeven and his wife, Mikey, attending where they and supporters could watch results coming in. The other celebrations were being held at the Minot Grand International Inn, Grand Forks Canad Inns and the Fargo Holiday Inn.
Hoeven's campaign was built on the slogan "Building Our Future Together." He said that is the focus North Dakota must continue to have and the nation also must have. His campaign focused on issues including job creation, energy, health care reform, national debt and taking care of senior citizens.
Hoeven is the former president and chief executive officer of the Bank of North Dakota. Prior to that he was executive vice president of First Western Bank in Minot. He has served as governor of North Dakota since December 2000.
When Hoeven leaves the N.D. Governor's Office to move into his new position as U.S. senator, he will leave the state office in the hands of Jack Dalrymple, who has served as lieutenant governor with Hoeven since December 2000.
The terms of U.S. senators and representatives ends on Jan. 3 and their next terms or terms of their successors begin that same day.