Horist: Hidy-ho Heidi Heitkamp
North Dakota Democrat Senator Heidi Heitkamp has been – and continues to be – the number one incumbent in America likely to lose her seat in Congress. Her decision to vote against Brett Kavanaugh will not change the trajectory very much. She has been likely to lose no matter which way she votes.
For months, there was conjecture that she would have to vote for Kavanaugh to save her seat in the overwhelmingly Republican red state of North Dakota. In the most recent polls, she was behind her challenger, Congressman Kevin Cramer, 53 to 41.
She faced two choices. Fall in line with the lock-step Democrats or represent the people who put her into office. For a lot of reasons, it was not a tough call.
She might have been a “yes” vote had her race been closer – if she saw a chance of victory. But with a 12-point deficit this close to the election, her chances of re-election linger in the low single digits. Odds-makers are not even able to get long-shot bets on her winning in November.
Any future she may have outside of North Dakota depends on her Democrat friends in Washington. So, why be loyal to people who are about to kick you to the curb and upset the folks that can give her a job, a platform or an office in the future? While she was losing popularity in her home state, the vote against Kavanaugh will make here a hot property in the Democratic Party. That is where her future lies.
Heitkamp can shop for another Senate seat outside of North Dakota. It would not be the first time a politician changed venues. Illinoisan/Arkansian Hillary Clinton moved into New York for the sole purpose of running for the Senate – and she succeeded. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney packed his bags and moved to Utah to run for the Senate – and he appears to be succeeding.
Heitkamp can take up residence in Washington and work for one of those prominent Democrat law firms – although she may be barred from lobbying by President Trump’s Executive Order placing a five-year ban on ex-legislators. Then there are those liberal Democrat think tanks where potential candidates for high office often park themselves as they await their opportunity. Should a Democrat move into the Oval Office in 2020 or even 2024, Heitkamp would be high in the list for a Cabinet post.
Had she been in a close race with Cramer, there is a possibility that she would have voted in favor of Kavanaugh. But losing a few more votes – or even a lot more votes – in a race that she could no longer win makes little difference. Unlike horseshoes, in political campaigns close does not count. You either win or lose. That does not mean that Heitkamp does not have a future in politics. It just means not as the United States Senator from North Dakota.
Heitkamp’s decision to put the thumb down on the Kavanaugh confirmation leaves West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin as the sole Democrat who might – just might – give Kavanaugh a positive vote. But, I doubt it. That would mean that none of the so-called vulnerable Democrat senators – those from states Trump carried big — will break ranks. Now we just have to see if others can do what Heitkamp apparently cannot do. Get re-elected.