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Republican Rep. Rick Berg, of North Dakota, once the favorite to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad, has found himself in a tight race, and spending by outside groups is flowing.

Berg faces former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat.

The Republican congressman absorbs a one-two punch today in ads from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Patriot Majority USA.

Patriot Majority USA, a liberal nonprofit, released “More Proof,” which features the AARP’s criticisms of the Medicare plan Berg supports — Rep. Paul Ryan’s “premium support” plan in which the government gives seniors a set amount of money to buy private insurance.

The DSCC’s “No Change” also focuses on Medicare. It says that while Berg promised that those who are already 55 and older will not see a change in their health care costs, that claim is “absolutely not true,” according to the ad.

Ryan’s budget plan reopens the Medicare Part D “doughnut hole” for prescription drugs — a range of costs in which seniors are responsible for paying for all their medications out-of-pocket, says.

North Dakota, a state that The New York Times predicted as “Berg’s to lose,” is solidly Republican when it comes to presidential voting, but the Senate seat has been held by a Democrat since 1960.

The Associated Press reports that Heitkamp’s ties to the state’s booming energy industry, which has kept unemployment the lowest in the country, has kept her competitive. Her folksy attitude has only upped her appeal to North Dakota voters.

Heitkamp has also faced a stream of attack ads. Like the anti-Berg ads, her health care position, especially her support of the Affordable Care Act, dominates the airwaves (see Crossroads’ GPS “Your Vote,” for example).

The National Republican Senatorial Committee also reported spending $310,000 on ads opposing Heitkamp yesterday. The ads have not yet been posted online.

The Senate race in North Dakota has attracted $5.1 million in outside spending, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, with top spending coming from the DSCC, the NRSC and Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC.

In other outside spending news:

  • The DSCC released two other spots: the first opposes former Republican Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, who is running for U.S. Senate, saying he puts special interests ahead of the state. The second, “Obvious,” critcizes businessman Jason Plummer, the Republican running in Illinois’ 12th District, for his Medicare stance.
  • Conservative super PAC FreedomWorks for America released a new round of ads on Monday, including two ads that oppose Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., for not being more supportive of natural gas drilling, and an ad supporting Casey’s opponent, former coal executive Tom Smith. The super PAC also released an ad opposing the Senate run of Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.; an ad opposing former Surgeon General Richard Carmona, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Arizona; and “Senator Space Cadet” opposing Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.
  • House Majority PAC, a super PAC supporting Democrats running for U.S. House, released five news ads criticizing Republican candidates: “Anything” opposes businessman Randy Altschuler in New York’s 1st District; “Neon” opposes Arizona state Sen. Jonathan Paton in Arizona’s 1st District; “Upside Down” opposes Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va.; “Doors” opposes Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Ill.; and “Higher and Less” opposes Paradise Valley, Ariz., councilman Vernon Parker in Arizona’s 9th District. The super PAC also reported spending $381,000 opposing Republican Rep. Jeff Denham in California’s 10th District.
  • The National Rifle Association of America Political Victory Fund, a PAC, released “Boot Brown out of Office,” an ad opposing Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.
  • Conservative nonprofit American Future Fund’s new ad “Promises” places clips from President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign speeches alongside his campaign speeches this year.
  • Let Freedom Ring, a conservative nonprofit that has attacked Obama on child soldiers and the Muslim Brotherhood, released “1967 Borders,” which criticizes Obama for supporting the restoration of the pre-1967 borders for Palestinians. He is the first president to formally endorse the policy.
  • Conservative super PAC YG Action Fund, a spinoff from the Republican “Young Guns” group, released “Turning the Corner,” a radio ad supporting former congressional aide Richard Hudson, the Republican candidate for U.S. House in North Carolina’s 8th District.
  • Americans for Limited Government, a conservative nonprofit, released a web video called “Obama’s Blunders: Disabilities and Other Government Assistance,” which, among other things, suggests that people on public assistance are “scamming taxpayers.”

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