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BREAKING: Rep. Rick Berg Concedes to Heidi Heitkamp - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

BREAKING: Rep. Rick Berg Concedes to Heidi Heitkamp

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Updated 11\7 7:15pm

Today Republican Senate candidate Rick Berg is finally speaking out. Supporters were waiting last night for a statement in the hotly contested race. Wondering whether the race was close enough to warrant a recount.

Valley News Live was at the press conference earlier this afternoon, where we brought it to your t-v's first and live when the congressman announced he conceded to Heidi Heitkamp.

It was a speech many republicans saw coming. But didn't want to hear. It was also quite humble. A statement coming from a candidate that most would never have expected to tell supporters, to back their new democratic senator.

It was a packed house at the Holiday Inn in Fargo as republican backers waited to hear something from senate hopeful Rick Berg. The long race finally came to an end.

"It's been a terribly tough race, a lot of mud slinging from outside super pacs but throughout it all I've been proud to support Rick. And I'll be proud to support Senator Heitkamp." Says republican volunteer Robert Lauf.

Congressman Rick Berg didn't make folks wait any longer for the anticipated announcement; "I just want to be clear, I want to concede this election to Heidi Heitkamp and thank her for her efforts and passion. Even though I may not agree with her philosophy. I think her passion is what makes this country great."

The margins between the two candidates was tight. Just under 3000 votes made Heitkamp the victor. Early Wednesday morning Berg talked it over and decided that the margin wasn't close enough to request a recount. Instead he told his supporters it's time for North Dakota to come together.

"My hope that as North Dakotans know there's tough decisions that need to be made and I want to encourage everyone here to be supportive of our elected leaders when they wrestle with those tough decisions. Because to me that's what this race is all about." Said Berg in a closing statement.

Republican backers like Lauf at Wednesday's convention, received the message loud and clear; "it was a tough night, but at the same point North Dakotans made it's choice. And we respect that as everybody should."

Congressman Berg wouldn't say this loss means the end of politics for him. But he did say he doesn't think he would change anything if he were given the chance to campaign again. Berg did reach out to U.S. Senator-elect Heidi Heitkamp. She did not appear publicly today, but did issue a statement. Sources say she'll be traveling around the state meeting with North Dakotans tomorrow.

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Rep. Rick Berg conceded to Heidi Heitkamp Wednesday afternoon in the race for North Dakota's U.S. Senate seat.

  Berg made the announcement at the monthly luncheon meeting of the Fargo-Area United Republican Committee of Cass County.

  Berg thanked his supporters at the luncheon and told people not to feel bad for him. He says he has no regrets.

  The final vote count has Heitkamp with more than 2800 votes than Berg.

  Berg thanked Heitkamp for her "passion" in the campaign.

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As expected, the North Dakota U.S. Senate Race was tight all Tuesday night, reaching into the early morning hours of Wednesday before Republican Rick Berg or Democrat Heidi Heitkamp addressed supporters or media about the race.

With all 426 precincts reporting, the race sits at 50/50. Heidi Heitkamp currently leads Rick Berg by just under 3,000 votes. Heitkamp has 160,752 vote and Berg wins 157,758.

Heitkamp said early Wednesday that she believes she's won the race to replace retiring Democrat Kent Conrad. Berg can demand a recount, and his campaign spokesman says he's not conceding until North Dakota counties certify their vote totals. That process takes about one week.

Heidi Heitkamp did address her supports early Wednesday morning just after 1:00 a.m. at her election headquarters in Bismarck.

"When we look out over all of this crowd and we begin to examine the hard work and we begin to examine the passion for North Dakota and the belief that we can do things better in Washington and when we all take the rains of this democracy to the electoral process this is what happens we can win.. We can win.."

Berg for Senate spokesman Chris Van Guilder released the following statement regarding the status of the North Dakota election for United States Senator:

"This is a very close election, which is why North Dakota has a process in place to properly count each ballot and officially certify the result. This canvassing process will certify the election and provide an official result. The Berg for Senate campaign will await the results of the canvassing process before making any other announcements regarding the status of the election."

While leaving the Republican camp late Tuesday night, Rick Berg had few words to say to media. "Well, it's a close one. I'd like to thank everyone for being here and putting up with us all day long and being here so late. Obviously, I appreciate that. I appreciated everybody that voted today. I got to go catch my wife and kids. See you later."

According to the North Dakota Secretary of State's Office, North Dakota's canvassing process is scheduled to begin Friday, November 9. On Friday, half of North Dakota's 53 counties will canvass their results. The remaining counties are scheduled to complete their canvassing on Tuesday, following the Monday holiday. At that point, election results become official.

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