A source has provided me with a copy of Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s first radio ad. I’m told it’s set to hit the airwaves next week (full disclosure, I have no idea if this has been submitted to the radio station I work at or not).
It’s 60 seconds long and pretty interesting stuff. Not surprisingly the Senator emphasizes bipartisanship, but specifically she touts her working relationship with President Donald Trump.
She said she “worked with President Trump to get rid of unnecessary EPA regulations.”
“When I agree with the President, I vote with him, and that’s over half my votes,” Heitkamp continues in the ad, though she also says that the President is aware that she’ll fight back if he’s doing something that would hurt North Dakota.
Here’s the audio.
Doing a quick fact check, FiveThirtyEight.com does confirm that Heitkamp votes with Trump more than half the time. They have her casting votes with the President’s agenda 55.7 percent of the time. Among Senate Democrats only West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Alabama’s Doug Jones have voted with Trump more (they’re each over 61 percent).
Republicans might point out, however, that Heitkamp’s voting record was a lot more left wing earlier in her time in office. In 2013 Heitkamp voted with her fellow Democrats and President Obama over 90 percent of the time according to Congressional Quarterly (that link is behind a paywall, sorry). As the Senator got closer to the end of her term she began to move back toward the center:
It might be fair to ask if Heitkamp cozying up to President Trump is a true representation of her governing philosophy or an election year gambit.
This tactic isn’t unexpected. Trump was elected in 2016 with over 60 percent of the vote. Hillary Clinton – of whom Senator Heitkamp was an ardent supporter, saying “she is going to be one of the greatest presidents of the United States of America that we have ever seen” – didn’t crack 30 percent.
So of course Heitkamp must eschew her previous support for Clinton, and her not-so-moderate voting trend earlier in her term, in order to posture as someone more politically palatable to North Dakota voters.
The question is, how believable is it?