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North and South Dakota each have one representative in Congress and as of today, that person is a Democrat. These two races are tight, however.

The race that’s gotten the most attention nationally is in S.D., where Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (the Democratic incumbent) is running against Republican Kristi Noem. The Washington Post reports that the latest huff and puff in the race concerns Noem’s questionable driving record. The Republican has gotten 20 speeding tickets six court notices for failure to appear and two arrest warrants. 

Still, Noem’s candidacy is a “cause celebre among conservatives,” the Post reports.

Meanwhile, in North Dakota, U.S. Rep. Earl Pomeroy (the D) is essentially tied with state Rep. Rick Berg, a Fargo Republican. A recent poll had Pomeroy ahead by one point.

Pomeroy is an 18-year incumbent and North Dakota has no current economic worries (besides not having enough workers to fill all the jobs being created in the oil and gas boom state). Still, voters are discontented and may vote out the incumbent. 

• The New York Times reports that the coal industry “spending millions of dollars in lobbying and campaign donations this year to influence the makeup of the next Congress in hopes of derailing what one industry official called an Obama administration ‘regulatory jihad.’” 

The coal industry is on track to exceed it’s 2008 spending on political campaigns as the industry faces new laws and regulations governing health, safety, the environment and climate change. 

• Lots of people kayak and raft the South Fork of the Payette River in Idaho. Near the end of the run is the Staircase Rapid (above) which has a rather nasty undercut rock. The flow of the river tends to push things (boats and people, for example) under the rock. It’s dangerous and one person died when his foot was trapped under the rock in 2007. 

The debate is whether the rock should be moved to make the river safer for boaters. Should we go about making “nature” safer for humans? The Boise newspaper explores this question. 

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