President Donald Trump coming to North Dakota has present Senator Heidi Heitkamp with a political conundrum.
On one hand is Senator Heitkamp’s state political party. The moderates have left the North Dakota Democratic-NPL party, leaving behind a relatively small organization of angry progressives who, among other things, hate President Donald Trump.
On the other hand is the rest of the North Dakota electorate which gave Trump a resounding victory over Hillary Clinton in last year’s election and which continue to give the President some of the highest approval ratings in the nation.
Heitkamp needs the latter group to win re-election in 2018, much more so than the former group, which is why she welcome President Trump to North Dakota with open arms last week. She knows which side her political bread is buttered on, but the move has gone over like a lead balloon among Heitkamp’s fellow Democrats.
“[D]oes she actually feel President Donald Trump coming to Bismarck is a good thing?” Greg Hodur, a former chairman of the state Democratic party, wrote in an indignant letter to the editor published by the Fargo Forum today.
“Please, Senator, don’t get filmed getting off of Air Force One behind Trump, Sen. John Hoeven and Rep. Kevin Cramer. And don’t give him a big hug to welcome him here on our behalf,” he continues.
Mr. Hodur probably won’t get his wish. My colleague John Hageman reports that Senator Heitkamp will be present to greet President Trump, though whether or not there will be any hugging remains to be seen:
— John Hageman (@jhageman_) September 5, 2017
Other sources are telling me that Heitkamp will actually be riding with Trump on Air Force One, though I can’t confirm that.
This is a calculated move by Senator Heitkamp. She doesn’t have to be on hand for Trump’s visit to the state. Should could make herself scarce, as she did during the heights of the #NoDAPL protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
That she isn’t is a figurative sort of “hug” which speaks volumes about the state of North Dakota politics.