Democrat Expected to Announce Primary Challenge Against Incumbent Senator Heidi Heitkamp

It’s April of 2017, yet I can’t seem to avoid writing about next year’s U.S. Senate election.

Earlier today I wrote about Senator Heidi Heitkamp making herself an ally of President Donald Trump and how smart that is, politically. But that decision is not without some repercussions within her own party.

Heitkamp has some vocal criticism coming at her from her left flank, and it’s originating in her own party.

In November of 2015 certain Democrats, including former state party chairman Bob Valeu, were telling the media that they didn’t think Heitkamp’s voting record was far enough to the left. During the Democratic National Committee convention in 2016 a group of North Dakota delegates approved what was described as a “harsh resolution” condemning Heitkamp saying she was “disrespectful to the people of our great state” for supporting presidential candidate Hillary Clinton over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]David Peyer is a firefighter from Driscoll, North Dakota is describing himself as a candidate for the New Nonpartisan League, though he tells me he intends to run as a Democrat.[/mks_pullquote]

At a reorganization event for the North Dakota Democratic party Senator Heitkamp was heckled a bit by members of her own party. “Heidi is in a lot of trouble with mainstream Democrats over her votes,” one attendee told me, adding that Heitkamp “left right away” after her speech. “She looked fairly shocked,” they said, adding that it was “rather embarrassing.”

Now I can report that a primary challenger for Heitkamp will be announcing his candidacy at a rally before the state capitol in Bismarck on Thursday.

David Peyer is a firefighter from Driscoll, North Dakota is describing himself as a candidate for the New Nonpartisan League, though he tells me he intends to run as a Democrat.

The NPL, these days, is officially a part of the Democratic party. Many dissatisfied Demcorats I’ve spoken to say they’d like to see Democrats turn to a platform more in keeping with that of the NPL.

Now before you write Peyer off as a crank consider that Rep. Marvin Nelson (D-Rolla), who was the gubernatorial candidate for the Democrats just last year, will also be speaking according to an agenda for the event.

The rally itself is concerning the medical marijuana legislation just passed in Bismarck, but Peyer will apparently be announcing his candidacy there as well.

I’ll have Peyer on my radio show on 970 WDAY later today at 1pm. Here’s how to listen live and/or subscribe to the podcast.

Is his candidacy a long shot? Absolutely. But it’s an interesting development given the tact Heitkamp is taking this election cycle.

The incumbent has been playing nice with a President the Democrats hate, while distancing herself from her political party on key issues, all in the hopes of picking up enough Republican votes to stay in office. But will she pick up enough to offset the votes she’ll lose by alienating Democrats?

Rob Port is the editor of, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

Related posts