Democrats Have a Point About Kevin Cramer and Harold Hamm

Harold Hamm, center, and Kevin Cramer, left, visit during a fundraiser for Cramer in Bismarck in 2012. To their right is Tony La Russa, a friend of Hamm's and three-time World Series champion manager. Amy Dalrymple / The Forum

North Dakota Democrats are slamming Congressman Kevin Cramer today after he said in an interview with WDAY Television that what tipped the scales on his decision to challenge Democratic incumbent Heidi Heitkamp in the U.S. Senate race was oil billionaire Harold Hamm asking him to run.

(Full disclosure, I work for WDAY’s parent company Forum Communications and I broadcast a daily show for WDAY Radio.)


Here’s the pertinent portion of the transcript from the segment:

WDAY: “It took months to get him to run. He said ‘no’ to other Republicans. ‘No’ to the president. He didn’t want to risk losing his seat in the House… but it was a call from oil tycoon Harold Hamm, whose net worth is $18 billion, that finally tipped the scales.”

CRAMER: “When Harold talked to my wife, Kris, and he said, ‘Kris, if Kevin does this, if you guys get into this, I will be his national finance chairman.’ That was pretty compelling.”

I don’t think Harold Hamm is at all the villain our Democratic friends make him out to be. I don’t think, as our left wing friends apparently do, that being a successful member of the oil industry makes you a bad person. In fact, I’m pretty certain that if Hamm wanted to rain down campaign money on Heidi Heitkamp the Democrats would be glad of it.

All that said, this is not a good look for Cramer.

It’s not like Hamm hasn’t been active in Cramer’s campaigns in the past, but remember that for months the Congressman hemmed and hawed about whether he’d run for the Senate. He even announced at one point he wasn’t running, to the disappointment of plenty of Republicans and North Dakotans generally (and the palpable relief of Democratic activists).

But he changed his mind. And now we know that it was a billionaire oil man who changed Cramer’s mind? Not concern over the future of our state? Or concern about the future of the country? Or a desire to serve the public in a manner that’s better than what Heitkamp has offered?

A long time ago a reporter friend of mine described Cramer as a politician who is recklessly honest. I guess this is an example of that?

So kudos to Cramer for being honest, I guess, but I’d hope for something more inspiring as the reason the man decided to try a jump from the House to the Senate.

I don’t think Hamm is the singular reason Cramer is running for the Senate, but he’s kind of made it seem that way. He owes North Dakotans a more fulsome explanation.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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