“Senator Heitkamp has been perceived as being something less than open with both the public and the media,” I wrote yesterday, comparing North Dakota’s junior Senator to Rep. Kevin Cramer, a potential 2018 challenger for Heitkamp’s seat, who has won praise for being extremely open with the media and public. “Heitkamp’s aggressive staff ensures she gets her name into lots of headlines and news articles, but journalists and other media types I’ve spoken to talk of the difficulty in booking Heitkamp for interviews when the subject matter might be uncomfortable.”
I went on to add that “Heitkamp is notoriously thin skinned.”
Ironically, as I wrote those words, Heitkamp was apparently in Washington D.C. proving me right. When approached by a reporter with questions about her position on gun control, Heitkamp gave a brief non-answer and then abruptly cut the reporter off.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), the only Democrat still in the Senate who voted against the background checks bill, said she hasn’t looked at any bills targeting gun violence.
“Obviously, I consider every legislation individually. We’ll see what comes,” she said. “That’s the extent of it.”
HuffPost started to ask another question, but Heitkamp interrupted.
“That’s my comment.”
In addition to illustrating exactly what I was writing about yesterday when it comes to Heitkamp’s avoidance of criticism and uncomfortable questions, gun rights activists in North Dakota might also have reason to be worried given Heitkamp’s answer.
Heitkamp got a lot of credit for voting against gun control legislation back in 2013 – it’s one of the votes that allows Heitkamp to posture herself as a red state moderate – but Heitkamp didn’t take a firm position on that legislation until the last minute, and it always seemed to me that Heitkamp’s vote hinged less on her conscience than then-Majority Leader Harry Reid’s direction. If Reid had needed Heitkamp’s vote to pass the bill I think he would have demanded it and got it.
Which brings us to the latest fight over gun control. Heitkamp is, again, playing coy with her position. No doubt, if gun control legislation comes forward, we won’t know which way Heitkamp is voting until her party leadership tells her which way she’s voting.
Which is a far cry from the sort of “independent” willing to stand up to her own party Heitkamp campaigned as.