For more than a year now, since the Legislature passed the bill which put the measure on the statewide ballot, North Dakota has been having a debate on Measure 1.
The state’s two Republican members of the state’s federal delegation – Senator John Hoeven and Rep. Kevin Cramer – have long since gone on the record in support of the measure. But in a testament to just how lacksidaisical North Dakota’s reporters are, Senator Heidi Heitkamp hasn’t been put on the record with an explicit position on the measure (I’d note here that Heitkamp actively avoids her critics in the media, including myself and others, who might demand answers to those sort of tough questions).
Yet here at the zero hour, with election day looming, Heitkamp has decided to attack Measure 1.
You can read her argument here (I’m sure you’ll all be shocked to learn that a liberal Democrat like Heitkamp thinks something she disagrees with is “extreme”), but I’m not really interested in rebutting Heitkamp’s arguments against the measure.
The arguments for and against Measure 1 have all been made by now – ad nauseum for some, I’m sure – and I doubt there are many of you out there undecided at this point.
What interests me more is the timing of Heitkamp’s broadside against Measure 1.
Heitkamp works very hard to manufacture an “aw shucks” persona with her politics, but underneath that facade is a shrewd and calculating political mind.
I think Heitkamp attacked Measure 1 because she’s convinced it’s going to lose. If she thought it was going to win, I think she would have stayed silent.
Frankly, I think Heitkamp is probably right. The SAB/Valley News Live polling released last week showed Measure 1 losing, and while as a matter of fact and honesty I don’t find the arguments against Measure 1 to be persuasive, politically speaking I think they’ve been effective.
I think the often vicious and ugly campaign against Measure 1 has raised enough doubt even in the minds of solidly pro-life North Dakota voters that the measure will likely fail.
Heitkamp sees this too, which is why she felt she could speak out. But what a cowardly way to go about doing it, waiting until the last moment to decide which side of the fence it’s most advantageous to stand on.
Whatever your position on Measure 1, Heitkamp’s political maneuvering speaks volumes about her qualities as a leader.
Leaders who are confident in their positions, and proud of them, speak plainly and openly about them. Heitkamp didn’t, because she’s far more worried about power and politics.