Heitkamp Claims Democrats Taking Over The Senate Isn’t Her Goal


Politico reporter Dave Catanese is uniquely situated to cover North Dakota’s Senate campaign. After all, before going national, Catanese worked as a reporter in North Dakota, which is why his profile of the race between Democrat Heidi Heitkamp and Republican Rick Berg is perhaps the best that’s been written about the race.

For one, he captures the crux of the problem for Rick Berg, summed up by former Governor Ed Schafer:

He said the Berg campaign rested on its laurels and had a false sense of inevitability in the early months of the campaign.

“I don’t think the Berg campaign has been strong enough in pointing out to voters the fallacy as it relates to her supposed middle-of-the-road positions. I’d like to see a stronger response,” Schafer told POLITICO. “They came out of 2010 and assumed ‘I’m the giant killer, I beat this nine-term incumbent [Earl Pomeroy], Heidi’s been out of the game. They had this giant killer mentality that ‘we’ll just do it again’ and that caught up to them.”

That’s very candid, and spot on.

The rest of Catanese’s article dwells on Heitkamp’s “charm offensive” and “likability.” It’s true that Heitkamp is certainly a charmer, but it’s worth remembering what that charm is covering up. Consider this, also from Catanese’s article:

Heitkamp bristles at questions about the race potentially deciding which party wins the Senate.

“At the end of the day, it’s not about control of anything, other than representation of North Dakota,” she said. “Everybody makes a big deal out of control of the Senate. Right now, you need 60 votes. No one controls the Senate. That’s a huge problem. No one controls the Senate now because nothing gets done.

At the heart of that bit of cognitive dissonance is the fact that Heitkamp needs North Dakota voters to forget that she’s on the record as another vote for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Barack Obama.

This is why Heitkamp said she doesn’t care about her party’s platform. This is why she says continued Democrat control of the Senate doesn’t matter. Heck, this is why Heitkamp doesn’t even really like the label “Democrat,” saying in interviews that she fancies herself more of an “independent.”

Heitkamp needs her personality, her likability, to eclipse the issues. That’s why there’s all this focus on her “charms” even as she runs an ugly negative campaign aimed at convincing voters to hate Rick Berg.

That’s what Heitkamp needs. She needs voters to forget the issues and like her more than Berg. For Heitkamp, it has to be about personality. Because if this race is about the issues she loses.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • 308T

    Unfortunately her phony, negative campaign will probably convince the sheeple to put her in power.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      I wouldn’t be so sure. Berg is going to finish strong I believe.

  • DakotaStrong

    Couple of things. We vote in Heitkamp, and she goes to D.C., and everything voted on in the Senate gets cancelled out when Hoeven votes yes and Heitkamp votes no (or vice versa). We can get a lot more done with Hoeven and Berg on the Senate ticket working together for North Dakota. Oh, and the other thing, just where exactly is the enthusiasm for Heitkamp? Surely didn’t see it at the NDSU homecoming parade. The crowd with Berg dwarfed the few with Heitkamp. Don’t their own even believe in her? Are they afraid to be seen with her? What gives?

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      I’ve heard that from other sources, that Heitkamp’s parade retinue was small. Believe it or not, that stuff matters. If she can’t pull a big crowd in Fargo it doesn’t speak well for her chances elsewhere.

      • DakotaStrong

        Biggest city in North Dakota by far, and typically the bigger cities have big contingents on the left.

  • Roy_Bean

    If democrat control of the Senate didn’t matter Dingy Harry wouldn’t be putting all that money into her campaign. How stupid does she think we are?

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob


  • Lynn Bergman

    If she doesn’t like the Democrat label or the party platform…why do we have to listen to that sick class envy commercial? I have a message for the farmer that thinks Romney gave tax breaks to the rich that prevented his two boys from getting a government funded college education:
    Since the maximum income tax rate was 92% during World War II, every reduction, including the 2001 reduction to 35%, has resulted in increased economic activity and federal revenues. And, In addition to the “rich” paying 35% tax on income, any portion of that income invested for economic gain is taxed at 15% on top of the 35%.
    So, if those two boys don’t have the grades to get scholarships, have them slide their ample rumps away from the dinner table and get out and earn their tuition and fees…LIKE I DID TO GET MY ENGINEERING DEGREE!
    Those DIRECT PAYMENTS received by agriculture may have seemed like a “free lunch”…but they were a part of bankrupting our grandchildrens’ future with deficit spending. So don’t expect free stuff for your children that are to be paid for by your grandchildren!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    What the hell are Democrats and Republi-crats doing to our country???????
    Wake up America…November is coming!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!