Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s political success here in North Dakota, as the only Democrat to win a statewide election in this deeply Republican state since the 2008 cycle, is built on the candidate promoting herself as a conservative, moderate Democrat who isn’t afraid to work with Republicans.
So imagine my surprise when a reader forwarded me a fundraising email this morning in which Senator Heitkamp refers to Republicans as extremists.
You can read the entire pitch below. An excerpt:
I doubt Heitkamp actually wrote these words. This is likely boilerplate language Democrats developed for emailed pitches, with the specifics of Heitkamp’s race here in North Dakota slapped into the blanks.
Still, the candidate should show more caution. In order to win another term in the Senate the incumbent, because there aren’t enough Democrats in North Dakota to win elections, needs a lot of Republican voters to cross over and vote for her.
Implying that those Republicans are “radical” or “extreme” isn’t likely to persuade them.
One of the best things to happen to Heitkamp this election cycle was President Donald Trump considering her for his cabinet, and calling her to a meeting in Tump Tower during his transition into the White House.
With those actions Trump, who won in North Dakota with nearly 63 percent of the vote, identified Heitkamp as one of his few allies in Democratic circles. Which, in turn, burnished Heitkamp’s reputation as a pragmatic, middle-of-the-road sort of politician.
Which is exactly where Heitkamp needs to be to win.
What can destroy that perception, however, is a lot of messaging from Heitkamp and her allies attacking Republicans and the “right wing.”
Most North Dakotans are Republicans. Attacking Republicans, generally, is a good way to lose elections in North Dakota.
Heitkamp is usually better at campaigning than this.