UPDATE: Heitkamp says officially that she’s not running.
According to the Bismarck Tribune’s Nick Smith, Senator Heidi Heitkamp will appear on her brother’s left-wing radio show later this morning to make an announcement on her 2016 intentions.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp will be on Joel Heitkamp’s show at some point during this morning’s show. Announcement on 2016 plans coming. #NDPol
— Nick Smith (@NSmithReports) September 9, 2015
My guess, based on this earlier tweet from Fargo Forum reporter Mike Nowtazki, is that Heitkamp is probably going to announce that she isn’t running:
— Mike Nowatzki (@mikenowatzki) September 8, 2015
Of course, Heitkamp’s answer today isn’t necessarily definitive. She could be saying “no” now with the expectation that Democrats, who really have no other competitive potential candidates, draft her before their convention in the spring.
This would give Heitkamp some political cover on two different fronts.
On one hand, remember that Congressman Rick Berg, who lost to Heitkamp in 2012, got a lot of criticism over the perception that he was being a bit to ambitious running for the Senate after just one term in the House. Heitkamp and her surrogates, specifically, hit him repeatedly on this issue. So Heitkamp would need to explain why she’s leaving her Senate term early to run for governor. If she’s drafted that looks less like an act of calculated ambition than acquiescing to popular demand.
On the other hand, you know Heitkamp is getting an intense amount of pressure from national Democrats not to abandon her Senate seat to likely Republican take over. Again, being supposedly drafted by Democrat activists might be a way to defuse some of that tension.
How likely is this scenario? Not very, but possible.