Democrat Heidi Heitkamp and Republican Rick Berg have been debating issues through ads for months.
But not until today -- have the two candidates for U.S. Senate met face to face.
It was part of the North Dakota Broadcasters Association meeting -- where candidates from three major races went head to head.
Donnell Preskey reports on the Berg/Heitkamp debate...
A friendly gesture to start off a feisty debate...
Democrat Heidi Heitkamp and Republican Rick Berg are after a U.S. Senate seat -- open for the first time in 26 years.
Other than in the polls -- this is the closest these candidates have been during the campaign season -- for this debate.
Heitkamp: "It's deplorable that we don't have a budget, that we haven't sat down and tried to solve our budget crisis." "When I get there I'm going to do everything I can to get the fiscal house in order."
Berg: "Our biggest risk to this country is the spending and the growing deficit. Harry Reid and Barack Obama have done nothing but to continue to increase the spending."
Both Heitkamp and Berg say getting people back to work will improve our economy and reduce the nation's debt -- which is at $17 Trillion.
They actually agree on many things... like the importance of a stable tax policy to build confidence... and becoming energy independent.
Berg: "we've got a barrier to energy development nationally. Harry Reid, Senate majority leader says coal and oil make us sick. Bills to encourage development and investment and they go to the senate... and... exactly."
Heitkamp: "we need every energy source we have and this is an area I have disagreements with the administration. They walked away from coal, they are hostile to oil both in tax and environmental policy and you know what both sides are backing away from renewable resources."
Berg says during his short time in the U.S. House the democratic leaders have put politics over policy.
Berg: "If you are going to get these things done, we've to to change who's in Washington. They are blocking this growth and development nationally."
Heitkamp: "My opponent has tried to make this race about party. I don't think that way. My priorities are to go to Washington, and listen to one person, the people of ND."
There's a lot at stake for this race. Political consultants say it could decide which party controls the U.S. Senate.