Heidi Heitkamp has spent most of this election cycle trying to distance herself from her national party and its most visible members like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Barack Obama. Heitkamp’s ads have steered clear of any mention of the fact that she’s a Democrat. Heitkamp bailed on attending her party’s national convention.
Now, despite saying on the record that she’d vote for Barack Obama as President and Harry Reid to remain majority leader, she wants North Dakotans to believe that she doesn’t share their views.
“I don’t speak for Harry Reid and Harry Reid doesn’t speak for me,” Heitkamp told the Associated Press.
The thing is, Reid in particular has worked hard to help Heitkamp get elected. His Searchlight Leadership Fund has funneled $10,000 into Heitkamp’s Senate campaign so far this election cycle, and Reid’s super PAC has spent almost $600,000 on advertising in the race supporting Heitkamp’s candidacy and attacking her opponent Rick Berg.
So here’s the question: If Harry Reid doesn’t represent Heidi Heitkamp’s values and opinions, then why is Harry Reid spending so much money to put Heitkamp in the Senate?
It would be counterproductive for Reid to put someone in the Senate who is going to work against him. The truth is that, when the rubber hit the road, Reid knows that Heitkamp would be a reliable vote for his agenda. Just as, when most North Dakotans were opposing Obamacare, Heitkamp’s fellow North Dakota Democrats Kent Conrad, Byron Dorgan and Earl Pomeroy ignored their constituents and voted the way their party leadership wanted them to.
Besides, even if Heitkamp might be counted on to vote against parts of Reid’s far-left agenda (and I suspect that her party’s leadership would only afford her that sort of latitude when they don’t need her vote), she’s still a vote for Reid continuing to set the policy agenda for the Senate.
Heitkamp’s claims of independence of Reid might hold some water if she gave Reid’s contributions back, and repudiated the advertising he’s done on her behalf, but don’t hold your breath. Heidi’s attempts to distance herself from Reid, Obama and her national party are just words.