This is an interesting choice given how much energy Senator Heidi Heitkamp, as well as her campaign and media surrogates, have put into promoting the idea that she’s a strong ally to President Donald Trump.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp was invited to the White House for the SCOTUS event but will not be going, her office says.
— Sarah Westwood (@sarahcwestwood) July 9, 2018
Senator Heitkamp wasn’t the only red state Democrat to decline the invitation:
Sens. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Joe Manchin, https://t.co/YkDphwfI7I., and Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., red-state Senate Democrats, turn down invites to Trump's Supreme Court reveal https://t.co/n2A2RtiMOY
— Jewhadi™ (@JewhadiTM) July 9, 2018
The politics of this situation are dicey for Heitkamp, as I’ve noted previously. So far Heitkamp has said she’ll withhold judgment on a nominee until she learns who it is, which is reasonable. Particularly in contrast to Democratic leadership in the Senate which seems to feel that their red state colleagues, like Heitkamp, are expendable in the fight to keep a Trump nominee from being confirmed.
What does Heitkamp snubbing Trump mean in this political context?
Who knows, but you’d think that if Heitkamp wants the public to believe that her decision on whether or not to confirm this nominee hinges on the qualifications of that nominee she would show up.
The Senator is going to have to tread carefully. While she needs Republican voters to win re-election in North Dakota, she also can’t afford to lose too many votes from left wing base.