JAMESTOWN, N.D. - A 54-year-old Jamestown man has thrown his hat in the ring for the U.S. House of Representatives.
Sen. John Grabinger, D-Jamestown, who is currently serving his second term in the North Dakota Senate, announced he is seeking the Democratic Party nomination for Congress.
Grabinger and Ben Hanson will contest for the North Dakota Democratic-NPL nomination during the state convention March 15-18 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks.
"We know what we're up against," Grabinger said, referring to the challenges of operating a statewide campaign. "But Sen. (Heidi) Heitkamp (D-N.D.) has shown with the right person and the right message, you can win."
Grabinger said he considered himself a middle-of-the-road Democrat.
"If I can get elected in Republican Jamestown, I must be somewhat moderate," he said.
He lists health care as one of the most important issues.
"First, we have to come together and fix our health care system," Grabinger said. "Our rural hospitals and nursing homes are critical to our rural way of life and they need our help to be viable for the long-term future."
Other issues include the North American Free Trade Agreement, energy policy and the federal debt.
"The new tax bill helps some but it is also set to blow our deficit out of the water," Grabinger said.
Grabinger said he would try to work for bipartisan solutions on issues in the best interest of North Dakota and the nation.
"Hopefully you can get people to come together to work together," he said.
Grabinger served as the assistant Senate minority leader during the most recent session of the North Dakota Legislature.
"Being in that position, I was able to be in on the negotiations on many of the budget issues," he said. "Those discussions were critical to the final legislation on the budget. We managed to balance the budget."
Prior to his service in the North Dakota Legislature, Grabinger spent eight years on the Jamestown City Council.
The decision to run surprised a lot of people, Grabinger said.
"People in my family have been talking about it a long time," he said. "My wife actually instigated the discussion about a year ago."
Grabinger said the discussions started because he didn't like the way things were going in Washington, D.C. He thought about the possibility for a year before making up his mind.
"After many discussions with friends, family and colleagues, I decided 'I want to do this,'" he said.
For Grabinger, the next step is contacting as many of the delegates to the North Dakota Democratic convention as possible to seek their support. He hopes to become part of the statewide congressional ticket.
"Cramer will be a strong opponent to Sen. Heitkamp, but I believe she will be successful again," Grabinger said. "If I'm on the ticket with her, I'd be so honored."