I think we have our answer about whether or not Senator Heidi Heitkamp is running for Governor in 2016 as has been widely rumored. In an interview with her allies on the Fargo Forum editorial board, Heitkamp refused to rule out running in 2016 and got off this shot at Rep. Roscoe Streyle for backing legislation changing the way her replacement in the Senate would be selected.
She also criticized a bill that a state lawmaker has proposed changing the way North Dakota would replace a vacancy in its congressional delegation.
That proposal would require a special election to fill a vacancy, instead of an appointment by the governor to fill out the term, which could create a disincentive for Heitkamp to run for governor, as she wouldn’t be able to appoint a Democrat to the Senate.
State Rep. Roscoe Streyle of Minot, the bill’s author, said Heitkamp’s rumored gubernatorial bid “was on my mind” when he wrote it.
When asked her thoughts on the bill, Heitkamp said, “I have no thoughts, other than, there wasn’t much thinking involved.”
Now Heitkamp didn’t explicitly say she’s running in 2016, but she is. And here’s why.
First, she’s clearly angry about Streyle’s bill. Since launching her campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2012 Heitkamp has cultivated a carefully crafted aw shucks persona. Her shot at Streyle’s legislation is out of character, which indicates that it has gotten under her skin.
Which means that she’s afraid the legislation will change the trajectory on her decision to run in 2016. Taking a shot at the governor’s office becomes a much more difficult task when she’s not assured of being able to appoint her own replacement.
Second, she’s not denying running. That means she’s thinking about it, which means she’s in. Because let’s face it, Democrats really have nobody else with a good shot of winning on the statewide ballot. The only Democrat on the statewide ballot to get more than 40 percent of the vote in 2014 was Ryan Taylor, who has now run for statewide office in two consecutive elections and got thumped both times.
No Democrat other than Heitkamp has run on the statewide ballot and won since Earl Pomeroy won re-election to the U.S. House in 2008, which is now the better part of a decade ago.
You really have to admire what Streyle has done here. With one deft maneuver he’s forced Heitkamp into losing her cool and tipping her cards in 2016 all while supporting common sense legislation which does nothing more than allow voters, and not politicians, fill vacancies in the state’s U.S. House and Senate seats.