Not high on Heitkamp

I had the opportunity to meet and chat with North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer at a fundraiser this past Friday morning in Minneapolis. Rep. Cramer serves in Congress as North Dakota’s at-large representative. With President Trump’s support and at his urging, he is running against Democratic incumbent Senator Heidi Heitkamp in the election this November. Not having heard Rep. Cramer speak before, I was extremely impressed. He is personable. He is ebullient. He is smart. He is conservative. I think he is a tremendous candidate.

Having been elected to Congress along with Heitkamp in 2012, Rep. Cramer has compiled a record that stacks up favorably against hers. Indeed, he is already exerting a chilling effect on her.

On April 18 last week, Rep. Cramer issued a statement supporting the confirmation of Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State. His press release stated: “While working with Mike on the Energy and Commerce Committee, I witnessed his expert questioning and understanding on diverse policy matters. I am confident he is qualified to uphold this position with his experience in the House, leading the CIA, graduation from Harvard Law, and Military service just to name a few. Mike has earned a swift confirmation by the Senate, and I wish I could vote for him.”

On April 19 the Hill reported “Heitkamp becomes first Dem to back Pompeo for secretary of State” (“virtually guaranteeing that he will win confirmation”).

See what I mean? Thank you, Rep. Cramer.

The great state of North Dakota should not be represented in the Senate by phony Heidi Heitkamp. (Query: is that the correct nickname?) Trump carried the state in 2016 with 63 percent of the vote. Hillary Clinton couldn’t crack 30 percent.

I asked Rep. Cramer on Friday if it wasn’t apparent that Heitkamp pretends to be an independent sort of Democrat but votes a strict party line when her vote matters. In response to my question he gave me a case study. It’s a case study that he will probably find of use on the campaign trail this fall.

The case involves the 2017 Congressional Review Act resolution to repeal the Obama administration’s methane rule. The methane rule is intended adversely to affect North Dakota’s interest in the development of its oil and gas resources. Energy development is of course critical to the state’s incredibly successful economy.

Heitkamp proclaimed herself undecided on the CRA resolution to repeal the rule. She was alone among the state’s top elected officials in mulling it over as the vote approached. All other North Dakota officials supported repeal. The Democrats and their left-wing environmental activist base opposed it. On this point see the February 2018 account by Michael Sandoval at Western Wire. Sandoval put it this way: “Heitkamp’s fence-sitting prov[ed] a head-scratcher for political observers in the state.”

Heitkamp had to wait to see if her vote was needed by the Democrats. When John McCain joined Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins to vote against repeal, it turned out that it was. Heitkamp was then able to make up her mind. Her mind belongs to the Democrats. Heitkamp became the fifty-first and deciding vote against repeal. The Washington Post more or less nails this part of the story in its recap of the vote.

There is much more to be said about this race. I’m sure we will have an occasion or two to return to it in due course.

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