North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp has organized a meeting in the Bakken oil patch concerning drug crime. See if you can spot any common theme among the officials invited to attend the event:
- Democrat Senator Heidi Heitkamp
- Democrat Senator Jon Tester
- Obama administration drug czar R. Gil Kerlikowske
- Obama-appointed US Attoney Michael Cotter from Montana
- Obama-appointed (straight from the Democrat National Committee) US Attorney Tim Purdon
The common thread is everyone invited is a Democrat. Which sort of runs contrary to things Senator Heitkamp said about working together during her campaign. “Heidi says it’s time to put country first, put politics aside and work together,” reads her campaign website.
The event is being cast in the media as an effort to find solutions to drug crime in western North Dakota (something Purdon’s office has been working hard to pin on the oil boom), but it seems more like a political event.
In fact, a source in the capitol in Bismarck tells me that Governor Jack Dalrymple’s office was taken by surprise by the event. My source tells me that the media probably knows more about this event than the governor does.
Which makes it seem like this meeting has more to do with politics than policy. A notion that’s reinforced when Associated Press reporter Dave Kolpack writes that “Heitkamp would not be specific about possible solutions.”
If Heitkamp wanted to solve problems, wouldn’t she want to include someone from Governor Dalrymple’s office?
This meeting isn’t about solutions. It’s about creating a toothache for the public that Democrats can campaign on in 2014. And it’s not a new tactic, either. In 2010 two members of North Dakota’s all-Democrat congressional delegation – Senator Kent Conrad (who Heitkamp describes as her mentor) and Rep. Earl Pomeroy – held the same sort of exclusively partisan “hearings” on infrastructure in western North Dakota in advance of Democrats running (largely unsuccessfully) on infrastructure issues in 2010 and 2012.
When you combine the all-Democrat nature of Heitkamp and Tester’s meeting with the fact that the North Dakota Democrat party has been running certain state agencies ragged with open records requests concerning oil industry regulation, the pieces fall into place.
Heitkamp isn’t looking for solutions to problems in western North Dakota. She’s looking to manufacture discontent her party can campaign on in 2014.