Heidi Heitkamp Still Hasn’t Called Kevin Cramer and That’s Kind of Sad


Sen. Heidi Heitkamp concedes the North Dakota senate race, at an election night event in Fargo, N.D., Nov. 6, 2018. (Hilary Swift/The New York Times)

At a post-election press conference yesterday Senator-elect Kevin Cramer, when talking about his impending transition into his new job, mentioned that erstwhile Senator Heidi Heitkamp hadn’t called him despite having conceded the race.

Cramer played it off as no big deal:

He also said he and Heitkamp have not yet spoken, though he said he’s been monitoring his phone.

“In all fairness, we both have had a helluva night. I’m sure at some point we’ll be able to visit,” said Cramer, adding he would thank Heitkamp for her service and congratulate her on her career.

Cramer also said he heard from Republican President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, who both congratulated him.

That seemed curious when I read it, so I reached out to Cramer this morning to see if he’d spoken to Heitkamp yet. He told me he hasn’t.

Which is both sad and revealing.

The latter because we live in deeply polarized times. Yes, the Senate race was brutal, but one would hope that the candidates could be gracious after election day as a way to set the tone for governing. Which is, I’m sure you know, the thing these politicians are supposed to be doing between campaigns.

The former because Heitkamp campaigned on her bipartisanship. She told us often about her willingness to set petty politics aside and work, in a pragmatic way, toward whatever would be best for North Dakota with whoever wanted to get on board. Her unwillingness to speak to Cramer illustrates that this claim was nothing more substantial than the tissue-thin assurances of a campaign promise.

I hope Heitkamp finds the courage of her convictions soon, and reaches out to Cramer for the traditional congratulation.