So much for Heidi Heitkamp’s self-described “independence.” The candidate campaigned on being anything but a loyal liberal partisan, but in her first big test Heitkamp did exactly what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told her to.
The Grand Forks Herald is full of praise for Heitkamp today for not voting to gut the filibuster, and to be sure I think she voted the right way on the matter (though I’d have preferred them to leave well enough alone), but Heitkamp’s vote should be see in the context of the promises she made.
In the earliest days of her campaign for the US Senate, Heitkamp pledged her support to Senators Udall and Merkley who were leading the left-wing charge for filibuster reform. She maintained support for her pledge to Udall/Merkley filibuster reform throughout her campaign. But now that she’s in the Senate, Heitkamp voted exactly how Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told her to, and helped kill the very reform she supported.
This, of course, would be the same Senator Reid who poured millions into helping Heitkamp get elected. In addition to direct contributions from his leadership PAC totaling in the thousands, Reid’s Majority PAC also spent $3.37 million on independent advertising supporting Heitkamp and attacking her opponent Rick Berg.
That kind of money buys a lot of loyalty.
The outcome of this vote is gratifying. The minority will continue to have protections in the US Senate. But ends don’t justify means, and what Heidi Heitkamp just showed us is that she’ll abandon promises made when Majority Leader Reid needs her vote.
That doesn’t portend good things for other promises Heitkamp has made.