The Economist has a profile of North Dakota’s Senate race published in its most recent edition. It doesn’t offer a lot of new insight into the race beyond an inexplicable description of Heitkamp as “motherly” (if they called Berg “fatherly” I’m pretty sure the usual suspects would be screaming “war on women”), but it does attribute an interesting stance on partisan allegiance to Heitkamp herself:
In general, [Heitkamp] argues, locals shy away from doctrinaire politicians, and consider the House Republicans’ state-shrinking budgets, which Mr Berg supported, too radical for North Dakota. She styles herself “an independent voice” rather than a Democrat.
Heitkamp has certainly worked long and hard to distance herself from her party this election season. She’s criticized President Obama (even as she’s quietly acknowledged that she’ll vote for him again). She’s attempted to repudiate her past, full-throated supported for Obamacare by taking a much more nuanced position during the election cycle. She announced that she was skipping her party’s national convention earlier this year (by contrast, Berg had a speaking slot at the Republican convention this week) and she has, in general, downplayed her party affiliation.
Which hasn’t stopped her from accepting big-money contributions directly to her campaign from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. This hasn’t stopped her from also getting millions of dollars in indirect support in the form of attack ads paid for by the DSCC and Senator Reid’s Majority PAC.
Which speaks to authenticity, I think. Heitkamp holds that she’s an “independent voice” rather than a Democrat. If that’s true, then why does she accept the support of her party? Why does she accept the support of her party’s leadership?
If Heitkamp says one thing, and does another, doesn’t that sort of make her a hypocrite?
It goes to a point I’ve been making since Heitkamp first got into this race, which is that she can’t win by being the candidate she really is. If she were straight-forward about her left-wing views she wouldn’t get elected. So she has to play this game where she runs away from the president she voted for, run away from the policies she supported and run away from the party that’s helping her get elected.