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'Coal lady' looks to sell fuel to skeptical Democrats

During the contentious 2012 campaign to replace retiring Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), the coal industry was pinning its hopes on Rep. Rick Berg (R). At least that's what campaign contributions show. But even though former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp (D) eked out a win by fewer than 3,000 votes, coal companies and other fossil fuel producers -- in what seems like an improbable development given the prevailing politics on Capitol Hill -- gained with Heitkamp a vocal and increasingly influential advocate in Congress.

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