Heidi Heitkamp got pummeled in the recent 2018 midterm election. Of all the high-profile Senate races being watched nation-wide, her seat flipped from blue to red by the widest margin— nearly 11 points. Let’s be honest with ourselves, it had to be an embarrassment. Especially after out fundraising her opponent, Senator-Elect Kevin Cramer, by a whopping $25 million to his $5.5 million.
Throughout much of the 2018 election cycle, we often heard about how likable Senator Heitkamp was. You know, that “North Dakota nice” side that the people of our state often pride themselves on. Heck, it’s even a term that some out-of-staters use when referencing us. What else would we expect from the state’s lone Democratic Senator?
Unfortunately, as the 2018 election cycle progressed, Heitkamp’s campaign got a bit more vicious— to the point of desperation. She drummed up some ad about Cramer raising his own salary while on the North Dakota Public Service Commission. And when it was proven to be false, she kept on running it. There were attacks on Cramer’s family. Heitkamp even ran radio ads featuring former North Dakota Democratic senators Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan that would’ve had us believe they were some sort of fiscal conservatives during their time in Washington, DC— and that Heitkamp is too. The majority of us knew better.
The people Heitkamp surrounded herself with on the campaign didn’t help anything either. While trying to hit Cramer with an ad in the form of an “Open Letter” from women purported to be survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and rape; they ended up including the names of women on the list who didn’t grant permission for their names to be published. Then her staff was caught on video saying Heitkamp would be “super liberal” if re-elected.
As if things weren’t bad enough, Senator Heitkamp published a Facebook post featuring World War II veteran Lynn Aas— without his permission. The campaign was asked to remove it, because he didn’t support her candidacy and didn’t “want his military background and acquaintance with the senator to be used for political gain”. Heitkamp’s own campaign staffer still managed to accuse the veteran of “gutter politics”.
In short, it was bad. Really bad. Our lone Democratic Senator’s image as an exemplar of “North Dakota nice” took a pretty big hit— and understandably so.
In the hours that followed the election, Senator Heitkamp gave about an 11 minute concession speech. This is typical of candidates that lose elections. But in the days that have followed the November 6th election, she never picked up the phone and called Senator-elect Cramer to congratulate him on a hard fought campaign— a move that’s also often made by those defeated in elections.
There’s some folks who seem surprised by the fact that Heitkamp just couldn’t bring herself to make that phone call. After observing the entirety of the 2018 U.S. Senate race for North Dakota, I’m not surprised at all. We all saw a side of Heidi Heitkamp we’d probably not quite seen before. And the majority of us didn’t like it.
To his credit, Senator-elect Cramer is doing his best to just move on and not make a big deal out of the situation— though he continues to be asked about it. The situation is what it is. Heidi Heitkamp is the one who has to live with the stigma that goes along with it. And to be honest, I don’t think she really cares that much.
If you’re interested in Point of View’s Chris Berg’s take on it, and would like to see Kevin Cramer’s response, you can view them below:
Sen. Heitkamp and Sen. elect Kevin Cramer met face to face for the first time since the election…find out how it went.
Posted by POVnow on Friday, November 16, 2018