The 2016 election cycle is one in which North Dakota Democrats could have picked up some ground against the Republican super-majority which dominates elected office in this state. There’s just no question that Republicans bungled the budget, and Democrats could have turned that into some election day wins.
The problem is, they can’t seem to get out of their own way.
If you were a member of a political party which hasn’t had a majority in the state Senate since 1995, or a majority in the state House since 1985, and has had just one victory on the statewide ballot in the last eight years would it be wise to be critical of the person who gave you that one victory?
Probably not. Yet North Dakota’s Democrats just can’t seem to quit ragging on Senator Heidi Heitkamp. The only Democrat to win a statewide election in North Dakota since Earl Pomeroy got re-elected to the U.S. House in 2008.
Back in November of last year certain Democrats, including former party chairman Bob Valeu, were telling the media that they didn’t think Heitkamp’s voting record was far enough to the left. Forget that Heitkamp barely won election to the Senate in 2012 by basically campaigning as a moderate Republican (which she isn’t, by the way).
Some Democrats want her further to the left.
Now North Dakota’s delegates to the Democratic National Convention are hitting Heitkamp for siding with Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders:
BISMARCK — North Dakota elected delegates crafted a harsh resolution criticizing Sen. Heidi Heitkamp for endorsing Hillary Clinton.
The resolution claims Heitkamp is being “disrespectful to the people of our great state … (and) the political process” by not endorsing the Vermont senator as a superdelegate at the upcoming Democratic National Convention. Sanders carried North Dakota in the state’s primary election in June, earning more than 64 percent of the vote.
There were 13 delegates who signed this rebuke out of 22 sent to the national convention.
Imagine how this feels if you’re Heitkamp. You jump into a Senate race in a tough election year for Democrats to take on a very well funded Republican candidate in a Republican state, you beat that Republican, and the thanks you get is a bunch of back-biting from the state party’s shrinking and increasingly far-left base.
Heitkamp has to make a decision about whether or not she wants to run for another term in 2018. I can’t imagine this is making her want another six years in public office.
And what does this say about Democrats in North Dakota generally? Going back to the point I made at the beginning of this post, I think this illustrates perfectly why Democrats watch Republicans govern from the the political wilderness in this state.
They’re simply to the left of relevance.