In a post last week I wondered what Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s vote on the Iran deal might mean for her intentions in 2016.
“[Y]ou have to wonder if Heitkamp is going to be willing to vote with President Obama, who she has tried to keep at arm’s length, on what has become a hugely contentious and largely partisan issue and then turn around and announce her candidacy for governor of a deeply Republican state that hasn’t elected a Democrat as governor since 1988?” I wrote.
Well today Heitkamp announced her support for the Iran deal:
“My decision is about seeking diplomacy rather than conflict. It’s about working with our allies to keep America and the world safe. It’s about learning lessons from the war in Iraq that we are better off when we build support and work with our allies than when we go it alone,” Heitkamp said in a statement on Thursday.
Heitkamp says she’s had discussions with experts and top officials and asked how the U.S. and our allies will verify that Iran will not have access to weapons-grade nuclear material, how we will enforce this deal, and how quickly we will be able to identify if Iran cheats.
“Let’s be clear, Iran is a sponsor of terrorism and an abuser of human rights. This deal doesn’t change that. America’s terrorism sanctions will remain in place even if we agree to this deal. And the United States will continue to push back on Iran’s actions,” Heitkamp said.
What’s interesting is that Heitkamp made this announcement even after news that Democrats already had the votes they needed. So this probably isn’t an instance where she’s being strong-armed by her leadership, or the White House, to get on board. She was free to make a politically strategic vote against the deal, because with Maryland Senator Barbara Milkusi getting on board yesterday the deal was going to pass anyway.
So Heitkamp is voting her conscience here, and probably against the wishes of most North Dakotans given that the state is a) very Republican and b) very dependent on the oil industry which is going to be hurt by this deal.
That sure makes it seem to me like Heitkamp’s answer on whether or not she’s running for governor next year, which is expected to come in the next week, is going to be “no.”
Both Senator Hoeven and Rep. Kevin Cramer, the two other members of North Dakota’s congressional delegation, oppose the deal.