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The race in North Dakota for a Senate seat being vacated by a retiring Democrat, Kent Conrad, was supposed to be a cakewalk for Republicans. When the state’s lone House member, Rick Berg, entered the contest, leading Republicans tucked the seat into their pocket and looked to other battles in their quest for a Senate majority next year.

It has not worked out that way. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has announced it would spend $200,000 broadcasting gauzy advertisements promoting the energy positions of Mr. Berg, a House freshman. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report downgraded the race to a tossup.