The Effort to Re-Elect Heidi Heitkamp Just Got Bipartisan

The 2018 midterms will have some of the most aggressively contested Senate races the country has ever seen. Both parties are expected to pour millions and millions of dollars into each and every seat — in most cases with incumbent Democrats trying to hold them, and Republican challengers hoping to flip them.

Then there’s North Dakota, where Democrats and Republicans appear to be on the same side.

North Dakota was seen as one of the original targets of the Republican Party,†which needs eight new Senate seats to have a filibuster-proof majority. Like Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin and Indiana, the state boasts a Democratic senator but was won by Republican Donald Trump in the 2016 election.

That makes Sen. Heidi Heitkamp a choice incumbent to come after — and after a rough go of it, the GOP eventually decided to challenge her with Republican Congressman Kevin Cramer, who represents the only House seat in the state of North Dakota.

You’d think that would mean the Republican powers that be would be rallying around Cramer in his effort to unseat her. Instead, some of them are throwing their support to Heitkamp.

The New York Times†reports:

Senator Heidi Heitkamp, the centrist Democrat from North Dakota who is fighting a pitched battle to save her seat, has gotten a lift from an unlikely source: the conservative billionaire Koch brothers.†Americans for Prosperity, the political advocacy group backed by Charles G. and David H. Koch, unveiled a digital ad campaign on Friday thanking Ms. Heitkamp for her support of recently passed legislation that loosened regulations on small and medium-size banks that were swept up in the 2010 Dodd-Frank law passed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

It’s no secret that the banking bill made Heitkamp some very good friends in the Republican party. After all, banking deregulation makes many of†the GOP’s largest donors extremely wealthy, and money often trumps politics.

And speaking of Trump, the president himself invited Heitkamp to the signing of the bill, making her the only Democrat to attend. This is despite the fact that White House aides tried to get Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to uninvite her — a request he refused.

Being an ally of President Trump is supposed to be Cramer’s ace in the hole when it comes to beating Heitkamp in November. But Heitkamp is dangerously close to taking away†his one advantage.

Politico†reports:

Her office keeps a running list of the dozen-plus meetings Heitkamp has had with Trump and his top advisers since the 2016 election.†And the senator is fond of noting that she forged close ties with Trumpís former top economist, Gary Cohn. The president met with Heitkamp in Trump Tower after the 2016 election to discuss a possible Cabinet position, asked her to join him on Air Force One, and invited her onstage to join him and her Republican opponent, Rep. Kevin Cramer, during an appearance in North Dakota.

In normal circumstances, Democrats probably wouldn’t be big fans of a Democrat-identifying senator so closely aligned with conservative policies that she’s praised by Republican special interest groups and rubs elbows with the highest ranking Republican in the nation. Then again, there are so few Democrats in North Dakota to begin with that they may be willing to take any advantage they can get — especially if it makes Cramer look weak.

Local conservative pundit†Rob Port†complains about the new change of face, claiming it’s hypocritical for the North Dakota Democrats use Heidkamp’s popularity with President Trump as a way to attack Cramer. Pointing to a state party tweet,†he†writes:

Hereís the party mocking Rep. Kevin Cramer, challenger to incumbent Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp, because Heitkamp got to stand closer to Trump than Cramer did at a bill signing. Heitkampís campaign staff has been carpet bombing social media with messaging about President Trump supposedly liking the Democrat more than he likes Cramer.

Other GOP special interest groups — in particular anti-abortion political organizations, like National Right to Life and Susan B. Anthony List†– continue to either actively endorse Cramer or oppose Heitkamp. But with the president and the Koch brothers giving tactic support — if not outright re-election assistance — it looks like the fight over ousting Heitkamp may be more Republican versus Republican than Republican versus Democrat in the end.

Photo credit: U.S. Senate/Wikimedia Commons

33 comments

Winn A
Winn A2 months ago

Noted

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Ruth S
Ruth S2 months ago

Thanks.

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Anne M
Anne M2 months ago

That's good news...

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Janis K
Janis K2 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Alea C
Alea C2 months ago

Her voting record says she's a closet republican so Nebraska is left with voting for the lesser of two evils. Heidi.

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Paul B
Paul B2 months ago

John C. Like usual. No, I meant Dems, they have for many years been a voting block. Look at the problems the Reps are having even getting their own party to vote for legislation, immigration, ObamaCare repeal, mostly senate issues, but even in the House, there is a lot of problems herding those cats to a single objective. With Dems, what ever Pelosi says, goes. Whatever Schumer or before, Reid, pushes, goes. Lockstep. That is exactly what I meant. Just look at the congressional voting stats.

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Paul B
Paul B2 months ago

John C. On almost everything we disagree, but on this one I agree. Politics for local elections should stay local, money, voting, contributions, candidates, everything. I agree that would eliminate a lot of the corruption, and money politics.

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Loredana V
Loredana V2 months ago

I don't think this is a good news

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Cathy B
Cathy B2 months ago

Thank you.

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Wesley Struebing
Wesley Struebing2 months ago

Have to agree today with Brian F. The best that can be said is we shouldn;t let the perfect get in the way of the good. And, for the most part, Heitkamp is pro-women's issues. (It surely seems that we can do better than Manchin and Heitkamp, though...)

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